The Alton Redbirds were at their best in Saturday’s Champaign Centennial Class 2A Girls Golf Sectional.
They shot a 334 to score to capture the sectional championship, the first one in AHS girls’ golf history. The 1992 Redbirds qualified for state as a team, but didn’t win a sectional title.
“It’s huge and absolutely our top accomplishment — for the moment — this season,” seventh-year head coach Carey Cappel said. “It‘s pretty incredible.”
Courtney Hachmann paced the Redbirds on the University of Illinois Orange Course in Savoy. She shot a 78 score to follow in the footsteps of teammates Natalie Long and Tori Hays.
Long recorded an 80 and Hays carded an 81 in the sectional. Two more seniors, Ashley Orr and Samantha Patton, both had rounds of 95 to figure in the Redbirds’ team score.
“Courtney, Tori and Natalie put up some amazing scores,” Cappel said, “and when our fourth scores were under 100, it was huge for us.”
Hays, Long and Hachmann serve as the nucleus of an AHS team that has gone 32-2 the past two seasons and won or shared a pair of Southwestern Conference championships.
“The team chemistry is incredible,” Cappel said. “After the regional, we talked about the way we played in Springfield. It wasn’t the way we played all season. Then the girls came out today and played more relaxed. They took care of business.”
Long led the Redbirds to a sizzling 305 score and the SWC tournament title at Belk Park in Wood River. Hays guided the Birds to a 344 total and the runner-up spot in the Springfield High Regional.
Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin outshot Alton by nine strokes for the regional championship, but the Redbirds outdid the Cyclones by one stroke at Champaign. Normal University took third at 343. SSHG and Normal will join AHS at state.
Amanda Greenan, a junior from Bartonville Limestone, registered a 77 score for sectional medalist honors. She outdid Galesburg sophomore Taylor Nesselroad, who also logged a 77. Hachmann finished third. Long tied for eighth overall and Hays shared 11th place.
The two-class IHSA finals start next Friday and conclude Saturday at the Hickory Ridge Course in Decatur. The Redbirds are going to state for the second time in program history and the first time in 22 years.
“The possibilities at state are really endless,” Cappel said.
Alton, which shared the Southwestern Conference championship with Edwardsville and finished 15-1 in overall dual match competition, previously went to state in 1992. The Redbirds were 17-1 in 2013, but didn’t make it to state as a team.
Sectional-advancing Class 2A teams and individuals from Gurnee Warren, Hoffman Estates Conant and New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central are also going to Decatur.