Two-time defending state champ Althoff can't get out of Salem Sectional

News-DemocratOctober 12, 2013 

The metro-east trio of Austin Buente, of Triad, Jesse Johnson, of Highland and Michael Barker, of Columbia, earned trips to the Class 2A state golf tournament on Saturday at the Salem Country Club.

But for the first time in three years, the two-time state champion Althoff Crusaders will be staying home.

Centralia sophomore Jace Swartzlander fired a 1-over-par round of 72 and Tylor McDaniel added a 75 as the Orphans won the team title of the Salem Sectional.

The Orphans finished with a team score of 311, six shots better than Springfield (317) and nine fewer than third-place Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (320). All three schools will advance to the Class 2A state tournament, which begins Friday at Weibring Golf Course in Normal.

Individually, Nick Patton of Springfield Lanphier won the title with a 70. Buente and Johnson both shot rounds of 75 to advance, while Barker finished with a 76.

Althoff, which placed third in the Class 2A state finals in 2010 before winning the past two seasons, suffered through a tough day.

The Crusaders finished 11th in the team competition with a score of 335.

"It was just one of those days," Althoff coach Dan Polites said. "In sports, it sometimes happens where you just don't play well and today was one those times for the Crusaders.

"We got off to a terrible start. Our No. 1 player, Michael (Johnson), goes out and shoots a 45 on his front nine and the rest of the players also struggled. We tried to battle back on the second nine, but we just dug ourselves to deep of a hole early."

Johnson and Matthew McCarthy led Althoff with rounds of 81, while Connor Eghigian had an 83. Senior Grant Strieker rounded out the Crusaders' top four with a 90.

"The team never really talked about it, but I think they felt a little pressure being the two-time defending state champions," Polites said. "But we still had a great year. We went 20-3 in duals, won three tournaments and then won the regional last week. It's just a shame we couldn't have played better today."

Mascoutah tied Chatham-Glenwood for sixth place with a 329. Triad tied for eighth with Effingham at 330 and Columbia was 10th with a 332 score.

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