ALTON — Steady as she goes.

The Massac County Patriots took first place in the Alton Marquette Class 1A girls golf sectional getting 87's from Madison Cunningham, Madie Coakley and Lauren Coakley while Millie Lawson was medalist with an 75.

The Patriots' 336 was 16 strokes better than runner-up Nashville.

“I’m thrilled,” said Massac County coach Laurie Glass. “This is a tough course and they worked hard. Millie is just playing unreal right now. She bogeyed the last hole and still shot a 75. We had Madison Cunningham triple the last hole and shot an 87, her second best score ever. Three 87s, we didn’t have to count and 89 or 90. They’re just hard working girls. We’re peaking at the right time I guess.”

The Spencer T. Olin course in Alton is known for narrow fairways, well-protected greens, and toss in some Sunday PGA-caliber hole placements, and it was a rugged test for the prep golfers.

“We played a practice round up here about a month ago,” Glass said. “If you don’t hit the fairways, it’s easy to blow up. And, they had the pins on some tough spots. Like on No. 3, it was horrendous. Our girls played that pretty well. I was proud of them.

“I just think they got ready in the practice round. A couple of them had a rough first hole, but I think that’s just nervous jitters. And, Millie was just solid all day long. I don’t think she was ever in any trouble.”

While Lawson was never in serious trouble, the day began somewhat inauspiciously.

“I started out really shaky actually,” she said. “I dribbled it off the tee. I managed to save bogey, so that wasn’t that bad. Then, I started parring so it took care of itself.

“It was a pretty tough course, but I managed to strike it pretty well. I’m glad I was able to put up a pretty decent score for our team.”

The tournament got off to a slow start with a 30-minute delay for fog. And, the day wore on and on. Players were still on the course until about 6:30 p.m. – a six-hour round for some players.

“It was pretty mental today,” Lawson said. “It was quite a long round, so if you had a bad hole you couldn’t let that affect your game. There were several birdie opportunities out there even though there were some tough holes.”

But, when all the scores were added up, it was a comfortable 16-stroke win for the Patriots.

“That’s good,” Glass said. “We just wanted to get out. Us and Nashville have been battling it out all year. We beat them and they beat us. We’re really good friends with them. We just wanted both teams to get out, and we did.”

Effingham St. Anthony shot a 360 to earn the third and final team spot at state. Pinckneyville fell two strokes short.

Area players advancing to state as individuals, include Megan Breslin, Pinckneyville, 77, Kylee Vaughan, Hamilton County, 79, Josie Sykes, Carbondale, 83, Avery Rea, Carterville, 85, Sarah Breslin, Pinckneyville, 85 and Hannah Gahagan, Murphysboro, 87.

The Class 1A girls state finals will be played at Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur Friday and Saturday.

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Sports editor

Les Winkeler is sports editor and outdoors writer for The Southern Illinoisan.

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