High School Sports

Althoff senior Alaina Irwin to play golf at Lindenwood University-Belleville

Unlike many college students, Alaina Irwin won’t have far to go when she decides to go home for a weekend next year as a freshman at Lindenwood University-Belleville.

And that’s just way Irwin wants it.

A starter on an Althoff girls golf team that has been among the best in the state during the past four years, Irwin has signed a national letter-of-intent to attend and play collegiate golf for her hometown school.

“I’m very excited to be able to attend and play golf at Lindenwood. It’s a good school academically and it’s a place where I think I’ll have a chance to play right away,’’ Irwin said. “I looked at some other schools, but I wanted to play golf and I wanted to stay close to home. I’m very close to my family and at Lindenwood, I get to do both. It really wasn’t a tough decision.’’

The daughter of Bill and Beth Irwin of Belleville, Irwin is the second member of the Crusaders 2015 team that will be playing collegiate golf. Gabby David, the Belleville News-Democrat Class A Player of the Year, announced earlier that she will attend Lewis University in Romeoville.

Together Irwin, David and sophomore Tia Kimbrough were the cornerstones of an Althoff squad that placed fifth in the Class A State Tournament in October. Althoff won the state tournament in 2014.

“And Alaina was a big part of both of those teams,’’ said former Althoff coach Tim Gehrs. “She’s been a huge part of our program the past four years and her scores have helped us win many matches and many tournaments. You don’t find many players who play four years and are able to be first-team all South Seven Conference and first team all area all four years. That takes a heck of a player and a heck of a competitor. But even more important is that Alaina is just a great young lady.”

Gehrs, who resigned at the end of the 2015 season, said he thinks LU-Belleville is getting a steal in Irwin, who averaged 40-41 for nine holes and 80-81 for 18 holes.

“Alaina has a very solid all-around game and she has the drive to want to get better,” Gehrs said. “There is no doubt that I think she can go in and be in the three or four players right away. She has that kind of ability.”

What Irwin doesn’t have is length off the tee.

“I’m not very big and I’m not that long off the tee. I know I have to work on getting stronger and hopefully be able to hit it a little longer,” Irwin said. “My strength is my irons and my short game. But there is a lot of room for improvement in all areas.”

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean