Althoff begins quest for another state title

One year ago Althoff girls golf coach Tim Gehrs took his team to the Class A State Tournament with the hope of placing in the top three and bringing a trophy back to Belleville. As Gehrs saw it, the dream of a state title would be icing on the cake.

This weekend — armed with three players off that team which won the state title — Gabby David, Tia Kimbrough and Alaina win — Gehrs hopes haven’t changed. But the Crusaders flamboyant coach would sure like some more icing.

“I’m not going to tell you that we’re going up there and win the state title. Our goal is to go up and play to the best of our ability,” Gehrs said. If we do that then I like our chances of bringing home a trophy for the second straight year. First, second or third ... any one of those would be great.’’

The South Seven Conference champion Crusaders begin their quest for a second straight state title on Friday in the opening round of the Class A State Tournament at Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur. Massac County and Rochester also figure to be in the running in the 36-hole tournament which concludes on Saturday.

Senior Heather Gosebrink and sophomores Megan Lewis and Maggie Tiernan are also on the Crusaders state tournament team and for the Crusaders to possibly contend this weekend, at least one of the three must play well.

“We know what Gabby, Tia and Alaina can shoot. They were all here last year and they know what to expect. In fact this is Gabby’s third trip to state,” Gehrs said. “If they shoot what they have been all year and we can get one of the other three to shoot under 100 each day, then we have a chance to do very well. Throughout the year, they have stepped up for us. I have faith they will again these next two days.”

Local individuals competing at Red Tail Run will be Mikaleen Lawrence of Mater Dei, Haley Faus of Waterloo and Hope Rueter of Nashville.

Class 2A Girls

After giving coach Chris Eddy an early 33rd birthday present on Monday by qualifying for the state finals for the first time in school history, the O’Fallon Panthers look to play well and gain experience for the future when the Class 2A State Tournament begins on Friday at Hickory Point Golf Course in Decatur.

The sophomore-dominated Panthers shot a team score of 363 to tie Normal Community for second place in the sectional competition with a score of 363 at Weibring Golf Course, seven shots behind sectional champion Galesburg.

This weekend, O’Fallon will face another stiff challenge when they compete against 11 of the top teams in the state on an always tough Hickory Point Golf Course.

Three sophomores Emily Marrs, Alyssa McMinn and Brooke Boatman along with senior Natalie Fix, have been the Panthers mainstays all year. Eddy hopes they be again beginning on Friday.

“I honestly don’t think we’re going to be that nervous,” Eddy said. “I told the girls that our goals this weekend were going to be to enjoy the experience of being at state. This is something they will remember for the rest of their lives. If we play like we can, I think we can be in the top eight or top 10. But as long as we keep improving, that’s what I want to see.”

Triad’s Brianna Benardin will compete as an individual.

Class 3A Boys

The top boys golf team south of Chicago, the Edwardsville Tigers have perhaps the best chance of any metro-east team to win a state title when they compete in the Claas 3A State Tournament beginning on Friday at the Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.

Coming off a sparkling performance in sectional play where it shot a team score of 308 at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton, the Tigers will be led by senior Justin Hemings and sophomore Tanner White when play begins at 8:30 a.m. on Friday

“The goal is to be in the top three and bring a trophy home,’’ Edewardsville coach Dene Schickedanz said. “We’ve prepared well by competing in some of the top tournaments against many of the top teams in the state. The boys have worked hard to get to this point and have played well all year. But I know we can play better. I know we haven’t played our best yet and I’m hoping it comes this weekend.”

Belleville West senior David Crosby and O’Fallon junior Logan Harris are competing as individuals.

Class 2A Boys

Looking to erase a disappointing 10th place at the state finals a year ago, the Althoff Crusaders will return to familiar ground on Friday when they compete in the Class 2A State Tournament at Weibring Golf Course in Normal.

The 2011 and 2012 state champions, Althoff will make its fifth state tournament apperance at Weibring Golf Course in the last six years. And while the Crusaders may not be the favorites heading into first round play, they most certainly will be the most relaxed.

“We have a pretty structured routine that we follow when we’re up here. This is the second year in a row these six players have been here and two of the seniors, Connor Eghigian and Matthew McCarthy, were here as freshmen when we won the state title in 2012. We know what to expect and I have a feeling that we’re going to play very well this weekend,” Crusaders coach Dan Polites said. “Morton will be tough to beat. But our goal is to be in the top three.”

Seniors Michael Cook, Carson VonAlst and Scott Semko along with sophomore Dylan Davidson round out the Crusaders lineup.

Highland senior Brode Portell is competing as an individual.

Class 1A Boys

Sectional champion Mater Dei and perennial state title contender Nashville headline the list of locals who will compete in the Class 1A Boys State Tournament at Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomngton.

Juniors Nic Hollenkamp and Noah Gerdes will lead the Mater Dei attack while Nashville will be paced by seniors Riley Edwards and Tyler Wall. Gibault sophomore Zachary Heet will compete as an individual.

Former Valmeyer head coach Terry Souchek will be the official starter for the Class 1A event.

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean