After a pair of somewhat shaky tournament performances, Althoff coach Dan Polites was rightfully concerned as the Crusaders left on Monday for the Class 2A West Frankfort Golf Sectional.
On Tuesday, senior Matthew McCarthy and sophomore Dylan Davidson put Polites’ mind at ease and the Crusaders into the Class 2A state golf tournament.
McCarthy ignored tough pin placements and slick, tricky greens to shoot a 1-over 73 while Davidson added a 75 to lead the way as Althoff captured the sectional team title of the West Frankfort Sectional at Franklin County Country Club.
Seniors Carson VonAlst and Michael Cook added rounds of 80 and 85 respectively for Althoff, which finished with a team score of 313, five strokes better then South Seven Conference rival Centralia (318) and nine strokes ahead of Alton Marquette (322) as it earned a trip to the Class 2A State Tournament that begins on Friday at Weibring Golf Course in Normal.
The 2011 and 2012 Class 2A state champions, Althoff will be making its fifth trip to the state finals in the last six years.
But after less then stellar rounds at both the South Seven Conference Tournament and Class 2A regional a week ago, Polites was glad to see his team return to form on Tuesday.
“We had a really good team practice round here (West Frankfort) yesterday (Monday) then we also had a very good team meeting last night. I felt much better and when I asked Matthew (McCarthy) what he shot during our practice round and he said 66. He set the tone for us on Tuesday,” Polites said. “It’s great to be going back to Weibring, a place where we’ve had some success and where the team feels very comfortable.
“These six players were all here at state last year and we didn’t play very well when we placed 11th. Because of that facet, the team has talked all year about wanting to get back there and playing better. Now we have our chance.’’
Centralia and Marquette also will be playing in the two-day 36-hole tournament as will local individuals Brode Portell of Highland, who shot a 76. Alec Hilliard of Civic Memorial also advanced with a 75.
Seventh in the Class 2A state finals a year ago, McCarthy got off to a rough start on Tuesday. But at 4-over after six holes, the Crusaders senior played the final 12 holes at 3-under par to finish with a 73. When Davidson, one of the top sophomores in the area shot a 75 and VonAlst came in with an 80, Polites liked the Crusaders chances of going back to state.
“I really wasn’t worried about Matthew. He was 4-over at one time, but he made a birdie at No. 9 then played the back nine at 2-under to shoot 73,’’ Polites said. “Dylan, being a sophomore, really showed a lot of poise and overcame the pressure of playing in the sectional.
“Carson (VonAlst) really grinded it out today with his 80 and when he came in and I saw where we were in terms of the other teams, I knew if we could get a score in the mid 80’s, we were in good shape. Michael (Cook) came in and did exactly that. It was a good team effort by the Crusaders.