Natalie Long pumps her fist after sinking a long putt to birdie No. 9, her final hole, on Saturday at the Class AA state tournament at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur.
Tori Hays putts on No. 9 at the Class AA state tournament on Saturday.
Alton's Courtney Hachmann watches her chip shot on No. 9 Saturday at Hickory Point Golf Club in Decatur.
DECATUR — There were mixed emotions for the Alton Redbirds at the Class AA girls' state golf tournament Saturday at Decatur's Hickory Point Golf Club.
It capped a sensational season and for some a stellar career at AHS. The Redbirds carded a 699 over the two-day tournament to finish in 10th place as a team. It was only the second time in school history the program has advanced to state.
The Birds would have liked to finish higher, but overall they couldn't complain.
"Any golfer will tell you, they always think they can do better," AHS head coach Carey Cappel said. "I know all these girls aren't pleased with how they shot, but I don't think they're that disappointed either. I'm not disappointed by any of the scores that are up there. Courtney (Hachmann) and Natalie (Long) had great days yesterday. They battled and played well today, I just don't think the putts were dropping for them today. Everyone else improved their scores from yesterday. Maybe if we had a few less putts they would have shot lights out."
Natalie Long led the way with a two-day total of 164, while Courtney Hachmann scored 166, Tori Hays shot 167 and Ashley Orr had a two-day score of 202. The other Redbirds to compete were Samantha Patton at 217 and Morgan Bemis at 233.
AHS was ninth after Day 1 with a 349. Long shot a team-low 78 on the first day, while Hachmann shot 80, Hays fired 87 and Orr carded a 104 to close out the team scoring. Patton shot a 112 and Bemis a 117.
On Day 2, Hays' 80 led the way, while Long and Hachmann had 86s and Orr shot 98, while Patton (105) and Bemis (116) rounded out the lineup.
Long began the state tournament on fire, racing out to a par-36 on the front nine on Friday. She bogeyed the par-3 No. 4, but then birdied the par-5 No. 5. She parred the remainder of the holes. It found her tied for third individually.
Unfortunately, she kind of lost her mojo on the back nine, shooting a 6-over-42 and she blamed her putting for sub par Day 2.
"I started out really good on the front nine (Friday) and then I had one bad hole, No. 15, I tripled, so I got in trouble there," Long said. "I held out with a 78, but today putting wasn't happening, which was good yesterday."
Hays was disappointed in her individual performance at state, but refused to hang her head on what the trip meant for the program.
"I didn't really care what we got once we got here, because our goal the entire year was to make it," Hays said. "It was kind of our goal last year and we didn't do it. Once we got here there was no stress. I just thought everybody could play the best they could and that was it."
Another facet that made Saturday emotional for the Redbirds was the fact that five of the six entries were seniors. Only Bemis, a freshman, will return next season.
It was a culmination of four years of work for a group of girls who won one match as a freshman and matured to only lose two matches in the last two seasons.
"They've brought this program to the top," Cappel said. "It's the last ride for five of these girls and we enjoy each others' company."
Long added about finally making it to state as a team, "It was just a great experience, a learning experience. It was just a lot of fun and we've come a long way that's for sure."
Hinsdale Central (634) garnered the state title as a team. The rest of the field rounded out with: Loyola Academy (649), New Trier (653), Wheaton Warrenville South (661), Mount Prospect (678), Orland Park Sandburg (678), Waubonsie Valley (679), Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (692), Maine South (698), Alton, St. Charles North (712) and Normal University (715).
Jessica Yuen of Naperville Neuqua Valley (142) earned state medalist honors as an individual. Long, tied for 35th, was the highest finishing local linkster.
In Class A competition, Marquette Catholic's Carlee Cronin was the lone representative from the River Bend at Decatur's Red Tail Run Golf Course.
Cronin compiled a two-day total of 186 to finish in a two-way tie for 67th individually. On Day 1 the Marquette junior fired a 93 to find herself tied for 59th. She again shot 93 on Saturday to find herself in her final position of 67th.
Charleston's Lauren Chappel won the Class A state tournament individually with a two-day total of 149. Belleville Althoff's Madison Weilbacher led the local contingency on the links, finishing tied for 16th with a 164.
Weilbacher's Crusader team earned the Class A state championship with a two-day total of 674. Abigail Irwin (165), Gabby David (170) and Alaina Irwin (175) rounded out the scoring for Althoff.
Second-place Eldorado finished three strokes behind the Crusaders.