By even his own lofty standards, Althoff senior Matthew McCarthy’s 2015 golf season was a successful one.
The reigning News-Democrat Class 2A Player of the Year, McCarthy won four tournaments, including the South Seven Conference championship. McCarthy was among the area leaders in both 9-hole (37.3) and 18-hole average (73.1) averages and was the unquestioned leader of an Althoff team which earned its third trip to the Class 2A state finals in the last four years.
But it could have been better.
“It was a good year and certainly for the team to get to the state tournament and place sixth is a great accomplishment. I just wish I would have played better at the state tournament,” McCarthy said recently. “I putted well. Its just that I wish my ball striking had been a little bit better.
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“It would have been nice to been all-state for the second time. But overall to be able to get to the state tournament three times and to achieve the ultimate of winning a state championship in my freshman year, I’m satisfed with what I accomplished and what we accomplished as a team.”
McCarthy, who will attend Valparaiso University, was a four-time all South Seven Conference and four-time News-Democrat Class 2A first team all-area selection. His 18th place finish at the state finals also earned him a share of the Metro-East Golf Coaches Association/News Democrat Player of the Year honor.
McCarthy shares the honor with Michael Holtz, of Alton Marquette.
Like all top players, McCarthy was at his best in the biggest tournaments this season. Rounds of 73 at both the IHSA regional and sectional tournaments had McCarthy hoping to be in the hunt for the state championship.
But playing on the same Weibring Golf Course in Normal where he had helped the Crusaders win a state crown three years earlier, McCarthy shot rounds of 78 and 76 to tie for 18th place.
McCarthy tied for seventh in the Class 2A state finals a year ago.
“I just didn’t play as well as I had hoped the first day. None of us did. I think we were eighth in the team standings after the first day,’’ McCarthy said. “It was disappointing because we had all been here (the state finals) the year before,” McCarthy said. “The second day we just relaxed and played good golf. I think we had the third best team score the second day. If we would have played as well the first day as we did the second we might have been in the running for a finish in the top three. But at least we ended it playing good golf.”
One person who has been a major factor in McCarthy’s delevopment as a player is Althoff coach Dan Polites. One of the top PGA teaching professionals in the St. Louis area, Polites has not only been a mentor to McCarthy on the links, but the Polites family are next door neighbors to the McCarthys in O’Fallon.
“It’s been a great few years in Althoff golf and Matthew has been a big part of our success,” Polites said. “I didn’t realize this until Matthew pointed it out to me but in his four years, he (McCarthy) has counted in every match and in every tournament we have played in but one. That is just a mind boggling statistic to me.
“Everybody has bad days. Everybody has days when they struggle with their games or they have days where maybe they don’t feel well or they have a bad day at school. But for Matthew, even on his off days to be able to grind away and still have one of the top four scores, shows the type of mental toughness and competitor that he is. He will be missed next year.”
While McCarthy’s days as an Althoff Crusader are coming to an end, he will continue to be a Crusader, a Valparaiso University Crusader that is.
This season, McCarthy felt the biggest improvement in his game was with his consistency and his course management. For him to be able to make an impact early in his college career, both have to continue to improve at the college level.
Regardless of what happens at the college level, there is little doubt McCarthy is one of the top high school golf players in Althoff history.
“I think attending Althoff was the best decision I could have made. Living in O’Fallon I could have gone to O’Fallon High School, but I don’t think I would have had the chance to play in three state tournaments with my team or won a state championship if I would have gone to O’Fallon,” McCarthy said. “Having (Dan) Polites as my coach the last four years has made me a better golfer and better person. He’s the best coach there is.”
2015 Belleville News-Democrat/Metro East High School Golf Coaches Assocation
All-Area Golf Team
Class 1A Player of Year
Tyler Wall, Nashville, sr.
Class 1A Coach of the Year
Dennis Trame, Mater Dei
Class 2A Player of the Year
Matthew McCarthy, Althoff, sr.
Class 2A Coach of the Year
Dan Polites, Althoff
Class 3A Player of the Year
Justin Hemings, Edwardsville, sr.
Class 3A Coach of the Year
Dene Schickedanz, Edwardsville
Class 1A First Team
Jordan Brown, Metro East Lutheran, sr.
Alex Dietz, Gibault, jr.
Mason Drury, Okawville, sr.
Riley Edwards, Nashville, sr.
Noah Gerdes, Mater Dei, jr.
Tyler Goebel, Mater Dei, jr.
Zach Heet, Gibault, soph.
Matt Mannisi, O’Fallon First Baptist Academy, jr.
Class 2A First Team
Michael Holtz, Marquette, jr.
Matt Hatley, Mascoutah, sr.
Alex Gorman, Mascoutah, jr.
Dylan Davidson, Althoff, soph.
Ryan Stites, Waterloo, Waterloo, jr.
Aaron Wittenauer, Columbia, jr.
Andrew Sobol, Wood River, jr.
Alec Hilliard, Civic Memorial, sr.
Class 3A First Team
Cale Ambuehl, Edwardsville, sr.
Luke Babington, Edwardsville, jr.
David Crosby, Belleville West, sr.
Austin Galloway, Belleville East, jr.
Logan Harris, O’Fallon, jr.
Ben Tyrrell, Edwardsville, soph.
Elliot Walkington, O’Fallon, sr.
Tanner White, Edwardsville, soph.
(One Combined List)
Tyler Arentsen, Mater Dei; Kolten Bauer, Marquette; Michael Cook, Althoff; John Cygnarowicz, Columbia; Cody Daech, Collinsville; Collin Doiron, Red Bud; Theo Dudeck, New Athens; Connor Eghigian, Althoff; Jordan Groennert, Wesclin; Mason Groshans, Collinsville; Gavin Grote, Granite City; Foster Gundlach, Columbia; Lucas Hackmann, O’Fallon; Nic Hollenkamp, Mater Dei; Jack Kohlmeier, Edwardsville; Jason Merz, Gibault; John Misiewicz, Collinsville; Jake Mueller, Wesclin; Michael Nowak, Columbia; Andrew O’Bryan, Belleville East; Jack Patterson, Marquette; Brode Portell, Highland; Ryan Ramsey, Sparta; David Rauckman, Belleville East; Scott Semko, Althoff; Kyle Steve, Columbia; Zach Trimpe, Edwardsville; Carson VonAlst, Althoff; Colin Whelan, Waterloo;