With their prep golf careers winding down to a precious few matches, a trio of Collinsville seniors enter the postseason with high hopes.
Collinsville finished sixth at the Southwestern Conference Tournament, held Sept. 24 at Triple Lake Golf Course in Millstadt.
Sarah Crafton shot 86 to lead the way for the Kahoks while fellow seniors Rachel Rogers and Lauren Albertina shot 102 and 104, respectively.
Collinsville will play Wednesday in the Class 2A O’Fallon Regional at Tamarack Golf Course in Shiloh.
“Those girls have provided us with a good core of senior leadership and they’ve set a good example with their work ethic,” Collinsville coach Bruce Thomas said. “They’ve been the foundation of the team all season and very few times did any of them have a score that didn’t count for us.
“We have a young crew this year and they’ve done a good job of working with those girls. They’ve made my job a lot easier.”
The girls feel comfortable in a leadership role.
“The seniors have definitely stepped up this year – I feel like we’re really strong,” Albertina said. “It’s a lot more competitive and we’ve definitely grown.
“Knowing it’s my last year has definitely affected me because I feel like I should be a leader and step up and set an example for the freshmen or any of the underclassmen. Not only is it in improving your golf game, it’s also in your attitude and how you respond to adversity.”
Albertina took golf lessons when she was 7 or 8, but didn’t start playing on a regular basis until the summer after eighth grade.
“My freshman year is when I tried out, but it was hard to get out here (to Arlington Greens, the Kahoks’ home course) because I couldn’t drive and my parents were both working,” Albertina said. “It really wasn’t until after I got my own car and was able to come out here in the summer of my sophomore year that I really started to improve.”
A two-sport athlete, Albertina also plays basketball.
“I spend more time on golf because I have a better chance for a scholarship, not that I foresee that happening,” Albertina said. “I’ve always found more room for improvement in golf and I’m really competitive, so I have to be up to standards. I try to be the best I can be.”
Crafton’s score at the SWC tournament was good enough to give her the eighth and final individual medal.
“The area where I’ve most improved is my irons,” Crafton said. “My drive shot hasn’t been too good, but I’ll deal with it and finish it out on the short game. That’s the key aspect for me at the moment.”
A standout bowler, Crafton placed sixth at the state tournament as a junior.
“I put more time into bowling and it’s my No. 1 sport,” Crafton said. “Golf is a sport I like to do for fun, but I also want to be competitive. That’s in my blood.
“Mentally, golf helps me (in bowling). You can’t get loud and crazy on the golf course while you can in the bowling alley, but every shot in golf is almost like every shot in bowling. Once it’s done, it’s done and you just have to get over it and move on to the next shot.”
Crafton hopes to continue her bowling career on the collegiate level, perhaps at McKendree University.
“Nebraska is my other top choice, but I haven’t decided yet,” Crafton said.
Rogers, meanwhile, also plays softball.
“I’ve played softball since fourth grade and it was always my No. 1 sport,” Rogers said. “Sarah was the one who actually told me about golf and I decided to pick up a set of clubs before my freshman year.
“I had a softball swing for the longest time and when I started getting good at golf, I kind of set softball aside. My softball year, I tried out for softball and made the team, but it was hard switching back and forth between the two sports. Now I spend more time with golf and I don’t play softball as much anymore.”
The seniors are anxious to see what Collinsville can do in the regional.
“As a team, it would be awesome to get to the sectional, but even if we don’t, I hope the three of us get out (as individuals),” Crafton said.
“It’s been a journey for us and it would be nice to end it together,” Rogers said.