The Granite City Warriors girls’ golf team had reason to celebrate Sept. 16 at the Orchards Golf Course in Belleville.
Make that two reasons.
After beating Freeburg and Mascoutah in a triangular match, the Warriors not only tied their school record mark of nine victories, they clinched their first winning season in dual-match play.
Granite City improved to 9-3 after shooting a 191 and having three players shoot under 50 against the Midgets and Indians. The Warriors had a total of nine wins combined in the last four seasons.
“It’s really exciting because we haven’t done anything like this before,” Granite City senior Mallory O’Gara said. “The school is getting a lot of recognition for it and it’s really cool to see how we came from not being a very good team to being really good.”
Now, the Warriors are setting their sights on turning in a strong postseason. On Oct. 7, Granite City will compete in the Class AA Regional Tournament at Tamarack Golf Course in Shiloh. Marion, Carbondale, Mount Vernon and Triad and all of the Southwestern Conference schools — including Granite City — make up the 11-team regional field.
“I would like to advance as a team to sectionals,” Granite City senior McKenna Beaver said. “I think we can do it. We definitely have the potential and we definitely have the scores to prove that we can do it, so it will be really awesome if we can advance to sectionals as a team.”
If the Warriors get out of regionals, they will compete in the Class AA Normal Sectional at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State University.
Last year, Granite City had two sectional qualifiers — O’Gara and sophomore Megan Keel. Since Karen Greenwald took over head coaching duties in 2007, the Warriors have had six sectional qualifiers.
“Last year, I had a wedding,” Greenwald said. “My husband’s nephew got married, so I did not go to sectionals with the girls. It happened to be on a Saturday and that was the only time that was on a Saturday. It’s always been on a Monday, so I didn’t get to go. They were so mad at me. Hopefully, we’ll get two or more girls out. I hope to get three. I would love to take a team.”
Granite City was scheduled to play Alton on Wednesday in its final home match of the season at the Legacy Golf Course. The Warriors return to the Orchards Sept. 29 to compete in the Southwestern Conference Tournament.
O’Gara, Beaver and Samantha Morelien make up the senior class. O’Gara and Beaver have competed with the golf program since they were freshmen. Morelien is playing in her third season.
“They’re a good group and I expect big things from them in college and in life,” Greenwald said.
With the wins over Freeburg and Mascoutah, the Warriors tied their school-record mark of nine wins that was set in 2008. That year, Granite City finished 9-21.
Last year, Granite City had just two wins. Greenwald said she’s happy her team turned things around in 2015.
“I’m having a great year,” Greenwald said. “Out of the six girls, I have five girls who average in the 40s. I never had four girls who shoot in the 40s. That’s why we’re winning this year and we’ve worked hard and a lot of them have been taking lessons over the summer.”
Granite City’s 2015 season got off to a flying start Aug. 18 at the Madison County Tournament at the Legacy. The Warriors finished second to Edwardsville in the large-school division.
Then, Granite City got off to a 7-0 start in dual-match play. The Warriors had wins over Belleville West, Litchfield, Waterloo, Civic Memorial and Valmeyer and beat Roxana twice.
“The 7-0 start was really exciting,” Beaver said.
The Warriors got their seventh win by beating Belleville West 24 strokes, shooting a 172, while West shot 196 in their Southwestern Conference opener Sept. 1 at Triple Lakes Golf Course. The 172 against the Maroons is the lowest team score in program history.
The next day, the Warriors suffered their first loss after falling by two strokes to O’Fallon at the Legacy. GCHS shot 174, while the Panthers carded a 176.
Keel, who earned third-team all-conference honors last year, has been the Warriors’ top performer for most of the season. She shot a 40 against Belleville West, a 41 against O’Fallon and a 41 against Waterloo and Valmeyer on Aug. 25.
Senior Samantha Moerlien turned in several outstanding performances. She was the team’s top performer at the Madison County tournament, placing seventh with a 44. She shot a 41 against Civic Memorial and Roxana on Aug. 27 and a 45 in the Warriors’ win over Mascoutah and Freeburg.
Ashley Richey and Phoenyx Derner round out the team.
The Warriors also finished fourth in the Alton Tournament, fifth in the Marquette Blast-Off Tournament and seventh in the Belleville East Par 3 Tournament.
O’Gara said Greenwald has been a big help to the team all season long.
“She’s the best coach you could ask for,” O’Gara said.
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