Photo by Tayhlor Sims
Age has never been an issue for this Alton High junior.
Tori Hays went to state in 2012 as a sophomore and went back as a junior. And though the expectations will be high as she enters her final season with the Redbirds this coming fall, Hays has shown throughout her high school career that she works well under pressure.
“Tori finished 56th in state as a sophomore,” Alton coach Carrie Cappel said. “It was her first year at state and the nerves set in, but this year she set a goal for her to make it to make it again and improve from last year.”
And she did. The first day she shot an 82, coming back and shooting a 78 the second day.
“She improved a ton this year,” Cappel said. “Conditions were not favorable whatsoever at state, but she fought through and I never saw any negativity come from her. She battled, she worked hard and she had a great two days at the tournament.”
The Alton Redbirds had their best girls’ golf season in school history this fall. Hayes and Cappel guided the Redbirds to a 17-1 record and the school’s first Southwestern Conference championship for girls’ golf.
“The girls’ golf program at Alton has come full circle in the past couple of years,” Cappel said. “When Tori’s class was freshmen they won one match; they’ve worked incredibly hard these last couple of years to get our team where it is today.”
Next year will be the Birds’ big year. The team finished second behind Springfield’s Sacred-Heart Griffin in the Quincy Class 2A Regional to end their season, but won the Southwestern Conference Tournament for the second year in a row.
“We have to come out of the clouds after this season,” Cappel said. “I don’t think any of us though we would have as a successful of a season as we did, but hard work pays off.”
One of the things Cappel said sets Tori and her class apart is their ability to set goals and work to attain them.
The Redbirds were 9-8 the previous season and 1-13 two years ago. But Courtney Hachmann and Natalie Long teamed with Hays to give the Redbirds the needed depth and work ethic to achieve goals and set new ones.
Before Hays and her class got to Alton High, the Redbirds hadn’t won a tournament. But this year started off with a bang, with the Redbirds winning the Madison County Tournament at the start of the season.
They also won the O’Fallon Labor Day Tournament and their own Alton Invitational, all on top of winning their school’s first conference title.
“The girls made history over and over again all year,” Cappel said. “And then we went to the regional and finished second and that was the low point of our season.”
This coming fall should prove monumental for Hays and her team, but for the time being, she is taking things as they come.
“I’m not sure where I want to go after high school; it still seems pretty far away to me,” Hays said. “I just want go somewhere warm.”