It was four years ago when freshman Madison Weilbacher made the decision to pick up a golf club as a member of the Althoff golf team for the first time. It was a wise choice.
“My freshman year I remember I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play volleyball,” Weilbacher said. “(Coach) Tim (Gehrs) asked me if I would be interested in playing golf and so I did. I’m glad I did.”
A three-time South Seven Conference, two-time Belleville News-Democrat first-team all-area selection and vital part of the Crusaders squad which won the Class A state title last falll, Weilbacher has signed a letter-of-intent to attend and play collegiate golf at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., beginning in the 2015-16 season.
A gifted athlete who also played four years as a member of the Althoff basketball program, Weilbacher considered several other schools including Rockhurst University. But the lure of having the opportunity to compete as a freshman at NCAA Division II power Truman State and its small-town atmosphere were just two of the factors in steering Weibacher to Kirksville, located in northeast Missouri.
“I liked the coaches and I like the fact that the campus is a nice size. It’s a place where I think I’ll be able to play golf and get a great education,’’Weibacher said. “It’s not that far from home either.”
Weilbacher is the second Althoff player in four years to sign with Truman State. Riley Keltner is currently a senior and in the midst of her final year with the Bulldogs’ golf program. Former O’Fallon standout Claire Munie is a sophomore at Truman State.
Weilbacher showed steady improvement throughout her high school career and was the Crusaders’ No. 3 player this season. According to Gehrs, Weilbacher is a player who was at her best under pressure situations.
That fact was obvious at the state tournament in Decatur in October when she in the No. 1 spot and shot rounds of 83 and 81 to finish with a 36-hole score of 164 and a tie for 15th place.
“First of all, Madison is a terrific young lady and I know in talking to the Truman State coaches that they are very happy to have her in the program,” Gehrs said. “But also Madison is a great athlete. She could have gone other places and maybe sat for a year. But she wants to go and play as a freshman and at Truman State she’ll have the opportunity to hopefully do just that. I think its a great fit for her.
“I think we saw what kind of competitor she is when she played so well down the stretch for us. The last day at the state finals, she’s playing with two of the best players in the state and she goes out and shoots an 81. She more then held her own.”
Weilbacher had a nine-hole average of 41 during her senior year and while she is very long off the tee, she is the first to admit that with Gehrs and her teammates pushing her this season, she improved the other parts of her game as well.
“Tim was tough on me at times, but it helped me become a better player and I appreciate everything he has done,” Weilbacher said. “I can hit the ball a long way. I probably average 250 (yards) or better off the tee and yes, I usually hit the ball pretty straight as well. My weakness has always been around the green — chipping and putting — but I feel its improved and I intend to keep working and improving all phases of my game.”
Weilbacher plans on majoring in graphic design at Truman State.