BELLEVILLE • Something about the par-3 Yorktown course brings out the best in Nicole Johnson and her teammates on the Althoff girls golf team.
On Thursday afternoon, the Crusaders posted a team score of 238 at Yorktown to win the Belleville East Tournament for the fourth year in a row. Nashville was a distant second at 254, while O'Fallon was third at 258.
Johnson, a senior, won the tourney for the second year in a row, shooting a 2-under-par 52. Johnson's teammate Maddie Elbe was the runner-up at 59.
"My iron game was just amazing today, and I was making some clutch putts," Johnson said. "I'm glad I beat my score from last year, which was 54."
The tournament win was the third of the season for Johnson. She also won the Mascoutah Invitational and the O'Fallon Invitational. During the summer, she won the 16-19 age division of the Gateway Junior PGA.
"Winning a tournament like this on a par-3 really helps your short game," said Johnson, who makes time of an occasional practice session at Yorktown. "You get to work on those in-between shots and scoring from that shorter yardage whenever you can."
Elbe, a junior, also was happy with her performance at the par-3 event.
"My short game is not always the greatest, but I was happy with the way I played today," she said. "I'm just out here to support the team and get the freshmen reeled in and make sure they have a good time out here as well."
Abbigail Irwin (63) and Megan Stephens (64) rounded out the top four for Althoff. Stephens has been the medalist for the Crusaders in four matches and helped them beat Belleville East and Belleville West for the city championship.
"We lost some people from last year, but the freshmen are doing really good," said Stephens, who is the team's only other senior in the top six. "Me and Maddie have stepped up to fill the (Nos.) 2 and 3 spots. I've been practicing all year because I wanted to move up and that's what I did."
Althoff coach Tim Gehrs was surprised by the Crusaders' margin of victory.
"Beating Nashville was a goal of ours because they're a great team and we lost to them in the Mascoutah tournament by four strokes," Gehrs said.
"We're now 18-0 in dual matches, and we've won three tournaments, so we're on a roll and hopefully we'll stay on it."
Leading the way for Nashville was Shawn Rennegarbe, who shot 59 to place fourth. Madi May also cracked the top 10 for the Hornettes, finishing ninth with a 62.
Alexa Boatman paced O'Fallon, shooting 60 to take seventh place.
Highland (261) and Okawville (263) placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 15-team event. Sarah Trobaugh and Codi Gramlich each shot 64 for Highland, while Janel Lake shot 63 for Okawville.
Other golfers in the top 10 were Columbia's Megan Biscan (third, 59); Belleville East's Miranda Lidisky (fifth, 59); Columbia's Allie Leingang (sixth, 60), Civic Memorial's Morgan Mayberry (eighth, 61) and Freeburg's Abby Bergkoetter (10th, 62).
Surprisingly, the course wasn't soggy after heavy rain on Wednesday.
"The girls were saying the greens were rather fast," said East coach Shauna Ecker. "The course is in decent shape considering we had such a hot summer with no rainfall.
"There was a lot of talent out there today. Althoff will be a force to be reckoned with during the postseason."