In a span of a little over two hours Thursday afternoon at Stonewolf Golf Club, Althoff golf coach Dan Polites went through the full gamut of emotions as he watched the final scores of the South Seven Conference Golf Tournament come in.
With Althoff battling longtime conference rival Centralia for the title, Crusaders seniors Michael Cook and Scott Semko made sure the tournament had a happy ending.
The Crusaders No. 5 and No. 6 players, respectively, Cook fired an 83 and Semko added an 84 as Althoff won its second straight conference championship with a one-stroke victory over the Orphans.
“I had a good feeling when the day started, but as time went on and I saw the scores that Centralia was posting and knowing that a couple of Althoff players were struggling in tough conditions, I thought we had lost it,’’ Polites said. “I’m always telling the boys that every stroke counts and on days when you aren’t at your best, you have to grind away out there. Today we did that and Michael (Cook) and Scott (Semko) came through big time for us with good scores.”
Althoff, which was led by a 73 from individual champion Matthew McCarthy, also got an 83 from sophomore Dylan Davidson as it finished with a team score of 323. Centralia, getting rounds of 79 from Jace Schwartzlauder and Matt Dobbs, finished at 324.
The title is the fourth in the last six years for Althoff, which will begin is quest for a second straight trip to the Class 2A state tournament on Tuesday at the Waterloo Regional at The Acorns Golf Course.
While Althoff has made a habit of winning the conference title in recent years, McCarthy’s title was his first after finishing as the conference runner-up in each of the last two years.
An all-state player a year ago and one of the favorites to contend for the Class 2A state championship at Weibring Golf Course in Normal in two weeks, McCarthy played consistent golf on a Thursday afternoon which featured winds 20-25 mph for much of the day. McCarthy had just one birdie and two bogeys as he posted a six-shot win.
“I came up short as a sophomore and junior the last two years. I really wanted to win the conference tournament today,’’ McCarthy said. “This is a tough golf course any day but with the way the wind was blowing — and it was a swirling wind — I was constantly checking to see which way it was blowing.
“I just tried to be consistent. My two bogeys were on three-putt greens and my birdie was a tap in, so it was a good, solid round.”
Carson VonAlst (89) and Connor Eghigian (93) rounded out the scores for Althoff.
Marion (359), Mount Vernon (388) and Carbondale (391) rounded out the team scores.