LAPORTE | Kyle Meihofer said he has recovered from a bout of mononucleosis, and Friday's even-par round of 72 appeared to back up the Valparaiso junior's thoughts.
Meihofer had birdies on hole Nos. 5, 6 and 15 to help the Vikings card a 305 and win the LaPorte Regional crown at Beechwood.
Meihofer began the recovery from the illness two weeks ago. He said this week's rehabilitation was less about rest and more about regaining his golf game.
"I felt a lot better everywhere, both physically and mentally," said Meihofer, who struggled with a 79 at last week's sectional. "I felt a lot stronger and ready to go.
"Anytime you start off well, you seem to have the confidence throughout the rest of the day."
Meihofer was 1-under (35) at the turn for the Vikings. His teammates strengthened their games for a combined 150 on the back nine to pick up the program's seventh crown and another trip to Tuesday's opening round of the state finals at Legends of Indiana in Franklin.
"Anything better than a 310 tells us we played pretty well," Meihofer said. "That makes us think we can shoot around a 300 at state."
Mishawaka Marian (308) and Penn (311) captured the other two team spots for state. Both Lake Central and the host Slicers fell short with 313s, but either has an individual representative for the Legends.
LaPorte's Joel Collins had a 70 for medalist honors.
"The more pressure, the better Joel plays," said LaPorte coach Bill Hart. "You never know how he's playing by looking at his face. You actually have to ask him what he is shooting to know.
"His round today was magnificent."
The Indians' Mike Barenie shot a 72 to take the final individual berth, but his team shot a combined 10-over on the final three holes to fall short as a team.
"It's definitely bittersweet," Lake Central coach Chris Rossiano said. "We knew it would be close. We've been winning as a team all season, and today we lost as one.
"Mike's only been playing the game for five years. That's a big step up to go from just starting the game to advancing to the state finals in just five years."