GODFREY — Althoff senior Michael Johnson's plan of attack was a simple one on Tuesday at Rolling Hills Golf Course in the Class 2A Marquette Golf Regional.
Hit the fairways and greens, no more than two putts and make pars.
A major contributor on back-to-back state championship teams the last two years, Johnson fashioned a 1-under par 70 to take individual honors as the Crusaders posted a one-stroke victory over Mascoutah.
Taking advantage of perfect playing conditions, Johnson missed just three fairways and one green all day as he posted a four-stroke win over Mascoutah junior Tyler McKinley.
"My goal today was to hit every fairway and every green in regulation. I had been struggling a little bit doing that recently,'' Johnson said. "Some of the pins were in tough positions so I just played to the middle of the greens and made pars.''
Matthew McCarthy added a 79 while sophomores Connor Eghigian (83) and Michael Cook (84) also added solid scores for Althoff which finished with a score of (316).
The regional title is the second in a row and fourth in the last six years for Althoff which advances to the Salem Sectional at Salem Country Club on Saturday.
Second-place Mascoutah (317) and Columbia (324) also move on to sectional competition.
Also advancing were individuals Hayden Bode and Colin Whelan, of Waterloo. Both youngsters tied for the final sectional berth with rounds of 82.
The win by the Crusaders brought a smile to the face of coach Dan Polites, who despite the triumph knows his team must play better on Saturday to move on to the state finals.
"Michael (Johnson) came over to me and said he played boring golf today. Well, if boring golf means being one-under par, I'll take that every day,'' Polites said. "Overall, we played good golf but we can play better.
"Matthew (McCarthy) shot 79 but he's better then that and Connor Eghigian can also play better. Michael Cook, my sophomore, came up with a solid round of 84. We'll have to play better on Saturday."
While Althoff moved a step away from a fourth straight trip to the state finals, the Mascoutah Indians qualified for the sectional for the first time in a decade, according to coach John Hinkle.
McKinley's 74 led the way for Mascoutah while Michael Duprey (76) also had one of his best rounds of the year.
"This is what they've worked for. It was great to see that hard work pay off today. I know this was one of our goals and today we were able to put four solid rounds together," Hinkle said. "I'm very pleased with (Tyler) McKinley and (MZ) Duprey.
"Now we'll go down and see how we can play at Salem on Saturday."
Nathan Welch (81) and Matt Hatley (86) rounded out the top four scores for Mascoutah.
Columbia rebounded from a disappointing finish at the Cahokia Conference Tournament last week to earn a sectional bid. The senior-dominated Eagles got rounds of 78 from Josh Fleming, 81 from Jake Hillen and Michael Barker and totals of 84 from Brett Luther and Foster Gundlach.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org