VALPARAISO | Logan Bertalan played Friday's round at the Valparaiso Sectional with a heavy heart, but the Vikings' junior still found a few reasons to crack a smile.
Richard Bertalan, Logan's grandfather, passed away Wednesday.
"I just tried to focus on the game, but I definitely think he was here to help me," said Logan, whose 25-foot birdie on the second playoff hole enabled him to earn medalist honors. "This is what he would have wanted me to do."
Bertalan's birdie served as the tiebreaker between him and sophomore teammate Kyle Meihofer. Each carded a 71, which helped the Vikings defend their sectional crown with a team score of 301 at Forest Park. Bobby Jacobs shot a 75.
"It was really nice to play well," Bertalan said. "There were a few times I got a little lucky -- I got a few putts to fall. I just enjoyed myself out (on the course)."
"He is really coming on strong and playing consistent golf," Valparaiso coach Wayne Lichtenberger said of Bertalan. "I thought our (team's) play was pretty solid."
Meihofer had a double-bogey on 16, but the defending medalist still was proud of his round.
"I wasn't trying to hold myself to any expectations," said Meihofer, who carded a 69 last season. "It was fun to be able to compete with Logan. You always feel like you leave a couple of shots out there, but I'm still pretty happy with how I played."
The Vikings will be joined at the regional by a pair of teams that ended droughts. One of them was Portage, which carded a 319 to place second and advance to a regional for the first time since 2002.
Indians senior Tim Talley, a state individual qualifier last season, won a three-way playoff for third place with a 75.
"I'm extremely happy for the players," Portage coach Dick Kretz said. "We were disappointed last year because we thought we should've been able to advance.
"I told these guys last year and (Thursday) to 'leave your mark and give the players coming into the program something to shoot for.'"
Senior Bo Culp carded a 75 and helped Rensselaer take the final regional-qualifying spot with a 321 score. This is the Bombers' first berth since 1997.
"We've known that we had the capability," coach Jeff Phillips said. "We had a great dual season (14-1), but we haven't been able to carry it over for 18 holes.
"I'm really happy for our seniors. This should give the team some confidence."
Michigan City and Marquette each shot a 325, while Chesterton was sixth at 329. All three schools advanced an individual to regional.
Ryan Brinckman will represent the Wolves after firing a 76. The Blazers' Jack Clancy earned his second straight individual berth with a 77 and Mike Marshall shot a 78 for the Trojans.