WOOD RIVER -- After hitting a bogey in the first hole at the Southwestern Conference girls’ golf championship tournament on Tuesday at Belk Park Golf Course, Addasyn Zeller didn’t panic.
“It was a rough start, but I decided to keep a positive attitude and hit as many greens as I could,” the Edwardsville junior said.
Zeller bounced back from the rough start by hitting 11 pars in the next 17 holes, then defeating O’Fallon’s Natalie Meinkoth in a sudden-death playoff round to win the SWC individual championship.
Zeller and Meinkoth both shot a five-over-77 after 18 holes to set up a sudden-death playoff round. Zeller won the playoff after hitting a birdie in the par-3, No. 3 hole.
“I was really nervous going in and I had a lot of shakiness going into it,” said Zeller, who earned a medal. “I played with Natalie before, so it was more calming that I knew the person I was playing with. She’s good and it’s really hard to keep up with her.”
Kayla Weinacht and Jessica Benson also earned medals for the Tigers. Weinacht shot eight pars and placed seventh with an 86 and Benson fired four pars and finished eighth with an 87.
Edwardsville also got a solid effort from its No. 8 golfer, Mary Arth, who fired a birdie and four pars and finished with a 91.
But the efforts from the four golfers didn’t help the Tigers bring home another SWC tournament championship.
O’Fallon won the tournament with a 314. Edwardsville, which beat O’Fallon by 27 strokes to win last year’s tournament, placed second with a 341.
“O’Fallon has a spectacular team,” Edwardsville coach Abby Comerford said. “They’ve been playing really well all season. We were definitely going for first place, but they’ve been playing really well and they came out and shot really well. Hat’s off to O’Fallon.”
The Alton Redbirds placed fifth with 393. Last year, they finished sixth with a 418.
“It’s not as well as I expected,” Alton coach Carey Cappel said. “Last week, we finished really strong, winning all three of our matches and finishing .500 in the conference. I knew O’Fallon and Edwardsville were going to be tough to beat, but I thought we could compete with everybody else.”
The Granite City Warriors, who hosted the conference tournament, finished seventh with a 495. They placed fifth with a 389 a year ago.
Collinsville was third with a 358, Belleville East finished fourth with a 381 and Belleville West placed sixth with a 449.
The Tigers, Redbirds and Warriors played under sunny conditions on Tuesday. A year ago, the three teams played under cloudy and wet conditions at the conference tournament at the Orchards Golf Course in Belleville.
“It was a perfect day for everybody to play,” Granite City coach Karen Greenwald said. “The course was in great shape.”
Weinacht, Alton’s Annie Maynard and Phoenyx Derner, Emma Sturdivant and Niya Wilson of Granite City competed in the conference tournament for the final time on Tuesday. All of them are seniors.
“It was perfect outside today and I love this course, so I actually enjoyed it,” said Maynard, who shot three pars and finished with a 95. “So it was really fun.”
Zeller shot a 38 in the front nine and a 39 in the back. At one point of the tournament, Zeller shot a par in six consecutive holes.
Comerford said she was pleased with Zeller’s effort.
“She’s been valuable,” the first-year Edwardsville coach said. “She’s been consistent throughout the entire season. That’s huge as a junior being able to be the conference medalist. It’s a big accomplishment for her.”
Alton’s Morgan Bemis came up one stroke short of getting a medal as she finished with an 88.
“Morgan has been consistent all year,” Cappel said. “She works really hard and she shows up early and she stays late. If you ask her, I don’t think she will be happy with her score. If her short game was working a little bit better today than it has been for the last month, she would have been in the low 80s today, where she would have really happy with that. Her short game has been on fire and today was an off-day.”
Bemis finished with six pars and fired a birdie in the No. 3 hole.
“I felt like I played well,” Bemis said. “It was definitely my personal best on 18 holes. But the way my putting was today, it wasn’t at my best, so I definitely felt I could have saved a lot of strokes there.”
Megan Keel led the Warriors with a 92. She was the lone Granite City golfer who shot under 100 in the tournament.
“It was a good score for what she’s been doing,” Greenwald said. “She’s been blowing up kind at the end. She started up really good in the beginning of the season. She’s been in the low 40s in the beginning of the season. I think the commitment and work ethic really makes a difference.”
Keel fired a 48 in the front nine and a 44 in the back. She finished with four pars.
“I was really hoping to get into the 80s, but it just doesn’t work out sometimes,” Keel said. “I tried my hardest.”
Edwardsville, Alton and Granite City will be competing in the Gary Bair Tournament on Thursday at Oak Brook Golf Club. They return to Oak Brook on Oct. 5 to compete in the Class AA regional tournament.
Weinacht said she’s looking forward to playing in Thursday’s tournament.
“That night is also my senior night, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s going to be sad to see that I have a few more tournaments after that. It will be a fun tournament to play in.”