SALEM, Ill. -- Gavin Frese heard his teammates on the Quincy Notre Dame boys golf team were struggling.
The junior knew that meant he had to pick up his game.
"It put a little more pressure on me," Frese said. "But I like that. It made me play better."
He ended up shooting his lowest score of the season, and it saved QND's season.
Frese, the sixth golfer in QND's lineup, fired a 5-over par 77, helping the Raiders finish third in Monday's Class 2A Salem Sectional at Salem Country Club and advance to this weekend's state meet at Prairie Vista Golf Course. QND finished third with a 312, just edging out Carbondale with a 314 for the final spot.
Charleston won the sectional with a 307, and Belleville Althoff was second with a 309.
QND's Alex McCulla carded a 1-over 73 to finish third. He was just three shots behind medalist Zach Williams from Mount Vernon.
"(Frese) shooting 77 kind of motivated the rest of the guys to keep going and hang in there," QND golf coach Mark Longo said. "Without a doubt, his 77 was huge. If he doesn't do that, we're in a lot of trouble and maybe Alex is the only one going to state."
Frese started with a birdie on the first hole. After landing in the fairway on his tee shot, his approach shot with a 6 iron set up an easy 3-foot putt.
"That made me think I could play well," Frese said. "I didn't do too well on the practice green. But after that birdie that told me I could do it, I just needed to make sure it happened."
He followed with a double bogey on the fourth hole, but answered with another birdie on the next hole to put him at 1-over.
As the scores rolled in, the tension got higher for the Raiders.
Seeing Frese's score calmed the players.
"We knew we just need a couple more scores to get out," McCulla said.
McCulla had two birdies after hitting 17 greens in regulation. He sank a 20-foot putt on the ninth hole to give him momentum going into the turn. He also birdied the 15th hole.
"I had a lot of chances, I just didn't take any advantage of them," McCulla said. "But those two definitely helped."
Reis Dreyer carded an 80, while David Hutson shot an 82 to round out QND's 312.
If Frese shoots in the 80s, QND doesn't advance to state.
"That was huge," McCulla said. "Anytime your sixth guy can come through, it's a good feeling. We probably weren't expecting him to go that low, but he came through and saved us and got us to state."
The Raiders will be playing for their sixth state tournament trophy on Friday and Saturday at the Weibring Golf Course on the Illinois State University campus in Normal.
Class 2A Salem Sectional
Charleston 307, Belleville Althoff 309, Quincy Notre Dame 312, Carbondale 314, Alton Marquette 318, Benton 320, Mattoon 326, Centralia 326, Highland 332, Breese Mater Dei 334, Massac County 337, Effingham 354
Zach Williams, Mount Vernon, 70
Jack Patterson, Alton Marquette, 74
Grant Goebel, Breese Mater Dei, 74
Nicholas Nguyen, Mattoon, 75
Zach Pereira, Carbondale, 75
Kolten Bauer, Alton Marquette, 75
Caleb Urshan, Centralia, 75
Max Phillips, Salem, 75
Cameron Lambert, Troy Triad, 75
Brock Willmes, Metropolis, 76