The Althoff Crusaders entered the golf season with a huge target on their backs as they began defense of their 2014 Class A state championship.
And it didn’t take long for first, the O’Fallon Panthers and then the Nashville Hornettes to hit the bull’s-eye as they posted one-stroke victories over the Crusaders in the first two tournaments of the year
“I take the blame for those two losses. I believe that when a team loses by a point or in this case one or two strokes, that as a coach, I should have done something to help us make up a stroke or two,” Althoff coach Tim Gehrs said. “Don’t get me wrong. Nashville is a good team and (coach) Doug Kell does a great job and the same with O’Fallon.
“I think coach (Chris) Eddy is the best coach in the area and does a great job with his girls at O’Fallon, but to come up a stroke short twice in five days, that hurts a little bit.”
Now three weeks later, Gehrs and the Crusaders are no longer hurting.
Competing Thursday at the Yorktown Par-3 Tournament, the Crusaders got a round of 2-over par 56 from senior Gabby David and three more scores of 66 or better as they posted a 13-stroke win over O’Fallon in the 15-team event at Yorktown Golf Course.
The win was the second in six days for Althoff, which also defeated the Panthers by five strokes at the O’Fallon Tournament on Friday, Sept. 11, at Tamarack Country Club in Shiloh.
“We’ve had a good year and I like the way we’re playing heading down the stretch and as we prepare for the postseason,” Gehrs said. “We’ve really been stressing and working on our short games here recently and that’s really paid off in the past week or so. You win by having good short games and in the last few matches and tournaments, I have really seen improvement from all the girls.”
The Crusaders No. 1 player and one of the top Class A players in the state, David has been the leader for the Crusaders. Winner of the Haas-Goalby and Mascoutah Tournament to start the year, David won the O’Fallon Tournament with an 80 at Tamarack C.C She followed it with a three-stroke win at Yorktown.
David’s four tournament titles are the most of any player in the metro-east this season.
“Gabby has been just tremendous all season. She’s very steady player and I can always count on her shooting 37-38 in nine-hole matches and 77-78 for 18,” Gehrs said. “She has worked very hard on her game and that work continues to pay off.”
Althoff, which also got rounds of 62 from senior Alaina Irwin, 63 from Tia Kimbrough and 66 from Megan Lewis, finished with a team score of 247 at Yorktown. O’Fallon was a distant second at 260.
“Alaina has played very well all season. She’s been very consistent and solid all year. Her short game is just great. Again, she’s not very long off the tee, but she is straight and from 100 yards in, she’s as good as I’ve seen,” Gehrs said. “Tia (Kimbrough) struggled a little bit earlier in the season, but she’s back on track and has really picked up her game in the last couple of weeks.”
Lewis, along with Heather Gosebrink and Maggie Tiernan, have also chipped in with good scores. Gosebrink shot 67, while Tiernan carded a 76 on Thursday.
“Those three have done exactly what we’ve needed them to do all year,” Gehrs said. “All we’ve asked is that one of them breaks 50 in nine-hole matches and 100 in tournaments. Without fail, they’ve done that. They’ve all played well this season.”
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at email@example.com or 618-239-2661.