O’Fallon, Althoff girls, Mater Dei boys earn state tournament bids

The O’Fallon Panthers spent almost the entire 2015 girls high school golf season chasing the Southwestern Conference champion and perennial state power Edwardsville Tigers.

But on a windy Monday afternoon at Weibring Golf Course at Normal, the Panthers not only caught the Tigers, but they zoomed right past them to their first ever trip to the Class AA State Girls Golf Tournament.

Sophomores Emily Marrs and Brooke Boatman shot rounds of 87 and 89 respectively while Alyssa McMinn added a 90 as O’Fallon placed second at the Normal Community Girls Golf Sectional, which was held at the home of the Illinois State University golf program.

Senior Natalia Fix rounded out the Crusaders top four scores with a 97.

Galesburg won the team title with a score of 356, while O’Fallon and host Normal Community tied for second at 363. Edwardsville finished fourth, two strokes out of a trip to the Class AA state finals, with a score of 365. The top three teams advance to the Class AA State Tournament which begins on Friday at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur.

The trip to state on Thursday won’t be any more exciting for coach Chris Eddy and the Panthers who celebrated the accomplishment with a dinner at Steak and Shake.

“I guess we’ll be making a few more ice cream runs,’’ O’Fallon Eddy said. “The girls are excited and they should be. Getting to the state tournament and playing in the state tournament is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

“We played great on the front nine and we shot a 175. But then we started to leak a little oil, as I like to put it. But in the end when he had to make shots, we finished strong. I’m very proud of these young ladies and we’re all looking forward to a great weekend.

Also earning a state tournament bid was Triad junior Brianna Benardin, who shot 87 to qualify as an individual

Althoff will defend its title

Driving home from the Class A Girls Sectional Golf Tournament on Monday, the Althoff Crusaders had a flat tire on a country road between Nashville and Pinckneyville. And Althoff coach Tim Gehrs didn’t mind a bit.

Winding down a brilliant four-year career senior Gabby David shot an 81 on a tough Crab Orchard Golf Course and two teammates also broke 90 as the defending state champion Crusaders placed second at the Carterville Class A Sectional Golf Tournament.

Perennial state power Massac County won the team title with a 336 score, while Althoff placed second at 348. Mount Carmel was third at 351, 13 strokes better then 2013 state champion Nashville (364). Massac County, Althoff and Mount Carmel will advance to the state finals, which begin on Friday at Red Tail Run Golf Course near Decatur.

Tia Kimbrough added an 85 for Althoff, while Alaina Irwin shot 87. Senior Heather Gosebrink rounded out the Crusaders top four scores with a 95.

And while the runner up finish and flat tire weren’t what Gehrs exactly wanted on Monday, the important thing is that Althoff will have the chance to defend its state championship.

“If it takes a flat tire for us to have a chance at winning another state title, I’ll take the flat tire every time,’’ Gehrs said. “We played good today. We didn’t play great or nearly as well as we can, but we advanced. That’s what we wanted to do. We wanted the chance to defend the state title and now we’ve got it.

“We left some strokes out there today. But I have a feeling we’re going to go to state this weekend and play very well. Once again, I’m just just so proud of these girls.’’

Advancing to state as individuals are Haley Faus of Waterloo (81) and Hope Rueter of Nashville (81) along with Mikaleen Lawrence of Mater Dei (86).

Class A Boys

Mater Dei juniors Nic Hollenkamp and Noah Gerdes shot rounds of 79 and 80 respectively while two teammates added rounds of 86 or better as the Knights earned the team title at the Anna-Jonesboro Class A Boys Golf Regional on Monday.

Tyler Arentsen added an 83 at Union County Country Club while Andrew Rivera shot an 86 for the Knights, who finished with 328, three strokes less then runner up Hamilton County (331) and eight shots better than Nashville (336).

All three teams advance to the Class A State Tournament, which begins on Friday at Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington.

Nashville was led by seniors Tyler Wall (74) and Riley Edwards (78).

Gibault sophomore Zachary Heet shot 79 to advance as an individual.

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean