DECATUR — A year ago, Central Catholic High School had high hopes entering the Class 1A Girls State Golf Tournament.
However, the Saints eventually finished seventh. But this year, Central Catholic proved up it was ready and wouldn't falter.
Sophomore Katie Steinman's 1-over-par 73 on Saturday helped Central Catholic hold off a back-nine challenge by Massac County as the Saints claimed the school's first state golf title at Red Tail Run Golf Club.
Central Catholic, which finished second in 2009 and third in 2008, shot 328 for a two-day 668 total, seven strokes ahead of Massac County. Pinckneyville took third (687).
"Massac County was the defending champion, and we knew they weren't going anywhere," said Saints coach Dean Glesing. "We talked all season about mental toughness and every shot counts and you never know which score we're going to count, so every kid has to contribute to the best of their ability all through the match.
"The kids took it to heart and played mentally tough. That's something we've developed over the course of the season. It wasn't necessarily there last year when we made it to state. It's been a focus for us all year."
Pontiac freshman Dani Grace Schrock followed the lead of her older sister and earned medalist honors after shooting a 2-under 70 for a 146 total. That was a stroke ahead of Macomb junior Emma Thorman (72) and two strokes in front of defending champion Ali Schrock (74) and Eureka freshman Allison Pacocha (77).
Eureka senior Carolyn Pacocha tied Steinman for sixth after a 74-152.
"I know Katie wasn't satisfied with her score Friday and thought she left some strokes on the course," said Glesing. "She was determined to go low today, and she did that for us."
Two other sophomores, Faith Glazebrook (83-166) and Kylie Hundman (86-171), followed Steinman in Central Catholic's lineup. The Saints' lone senior, Madison Clark, shot 86-179, along with freshman Annika Snyder (87-184) and sophomore Francesca Lee (100-195).
"Golf is always a team effort. You have to take four scores," said Glesing. "That's been our strength the last two years is the depth of this team, which is pretty unusual at the Class 1A level."
There will be a ceremony at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Central Catholic auditorium to honor the team. A cake reception will be held in the school cafeteria immediately following the ceremony.
Dani Grace Schrock said "it definitely felt odd" having to battle her sister for the state championship.
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"I really wanted to win, but I also wanted my sister to win," she said. "It was a little bit of a dilemma. I wasn't sure what I truly wanted. It feels good, but at the same time darn, kind of."
The younger Schrock used birdies on both back nine par-3s, Nos. 13 and 17, to vault into the lead. She shot 1-under 35 on both sides.
"My putting these past two days was really good compared to how it's been previously during the season. That definitely helps," she said. "I definitely made a lot more longer putts than I normally make. Even though I was not necessarily sticking my irons really close, I was still making putts within 10 feet to get a birdie or sometimes to save par."
Dani Grace Schrock had a good role model to prepare her for victory.
"Last year when watching her (Ali) it was really cool seeing how it all unfolded and her winning and what she got to go through," said Dani Grace. "It made me want to win state even more."
Ali Schrock also shot 1-under on the front and was still there heading to No. 15. She took a bogey and then hit her tee shot out-of-bounds on the 16th which led to a double bogey.
"Until about 15 with the girls in my group I was picking up strokes and getting ahead of them, and I'm doing fine," said Ali Schrock. "Then I started falling apart and it was, 'Oh, they're catching me,' and she (Dani Grace) was one of them."
While Ali Schrock wanted to defend her title, she was "super excited" for her sister.
"I'm glad she was able to do it because I know the feeling is amazing when you know you won," she said.
Class 2A State: University High junior Lexi Onsrud fired 76 to finish with a 156 total and tie for 22nd at Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth.
U High senior Maddison Murphy shot 76-159 and tied for 27th, while Normal Community senior Allison Enchelmayer fired 80-161 and was 37th.
Benet Academy's Lauren Beaudreau took medalist after a 73-140 that held off Lincoln-Way Central's Brianne Bolden by a stroke. Bolden shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday.
St. Charles North took the team title with a 610 total, eight strokes ahead of Barrington, while Lincoln-Way Central placed third (624).