Althoff senior Mathew McCarthy headed to Valparaiso University

After a four year varsity career that included being a part of the Althoff golf team that won the Class 2A state title in 2012, Mathew McCarthy is ready for the next chapter of his academic and athletic life.

But McCarthy will still be a Crusader. Only this time McCarthy will be a Valparaiso University Crusader.

One of the top players in the metro-east during his entire high school career, McCarthy announced last week that he had signed a national letter-of-intent to attend Valparaiso Univeristy in Valparaiso, Ind., beginning in the 2016-17 season.

“I thought it was really neat when after Mathew signed last week he called and told me. ‘Dan, I will always be a Crusader,’’ Althoff coach Dan Polites said on Monday. “Mathew is just a fine golfer and even better young man. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be an excellent collegiate golfer. He wants to be the best.’’

There was also no doubt Valparaiso was the school of choice for McCarthy, who finished his brilliant high school career by winning four times this season and placing in a tie for 18th at the Class 2A State Golf Tournament this fall at Weibring Golf Course in Normal.

“I’m very excited and can’t wait to get to Valparaiso next year to start my college career. It was my first choice all along,’’ McCarthy said last week. “It’s a (golf) program which is on the rise. They are bringing in another player and myself for next year so the opportunity to play is there if I go there and play well.

“I liked the coach (David) Gring, the campus is really nice and academically it’s tremendous. I’m really looking forward to the next four years.’’

The last four years haven’t been bad either for McCarthy who is a three-time Class 2A state tournament qualifier, a three-time Belleville News-Democrat first team all-area selection and the reigning Class 2A player of the year. McCarthy was a first team all-state team member after placing seventh in the state finals a year ago.

McCarthy’s senior year wasn’t as consistent as he would have liked, even though his (9 hole) average of 37.2 and 18-hole mark of 73.1 were still among the best in the metro-east.

“If I had to say, I would call this season a good one, but not a great one. I played well. I just had a few more ups and downs this year,’’ McCarthy said. “I played well at both the regional and sectional when I shot 73 both events and I thought I was playing well heading into the state tournament.

“It just didn’t happen. I got off to a slow start the first day and could never get the putts to drop that weekend. I did what I could and t place in the top 20 was a good finish. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for. That’s golf.’’

Located about an hour from Chicago, Valparaiso is a member of the Horizon Conference. And while the spring and fall season can sometimes get a little chilly in northern Indiana, McCarthy said the Crusaders frequently travel south to play in several major tournaments.

“They go to South Carolina a couple times and to Florida and Georgia. We’ll play events where the top teams in the country will compete. They’ve got a great schedule.’’ McCarthy said. “I know my game has to get better in all areas for me to compete at the level in which they do. But I’m willing to work hard in order to get to the next level.’’

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean