FRANKLIN | Alex Pancek stood on the No. 18 green at The Legends Golf Club on Wednesday with his head down. A slow, melancholy breath moved the green golf polo.
The seconds turned into a minute-plus for the Valparaiso senior.
Eventually, Pancek would sink his final putt.
“I was looking back at the last four years,” Pancek said. “I knew this would be the last putt I'd make for my team.”
Down 10 strokes heading into Day 2 of the IHSAA state golf championships, the fourth-ranked Vikings knew something above the average had to take place in order to make a run at the team title.
It didn't. Valpo played well but not well enough to overtake eventual state champion Westfield, which carded a 575 to win the big trophy. Columbus North was second with a 577 and Floyd Central was third with a 580.
Valparaiso fired a two-day total of 612 to finish in 12th.
“We knew we had to do something special and we couldn't pull it off,” Valpo senior Bobby Jacobs said.
Kyle Meihofer, who was tied for the individual lead after Tuesday's round with a 68, came in with a 75. His two-day total of 143 tied him for 11th on the individual leader board.
Zionsville's Adam Wood won the solo trophy by shooting a remarkable 8-under 136. Floyd Central's Devin Jenkins was second with a 137 and Westfield's Hildebrand and Jasper's Will Segel tied for third with 138s.
“It was really hot and we haven't seen a lot of that,” Pancek said. “If we would've been four or five back instead of 10 I think we could've made a run. We wanted it so bad. But we've done a good things this year. We've accomplished a lot.”
Jacobs shot a 75 on Wednesday for a 151, Andrew Gariup shot a 159 along with Pancek. And Patrick Andrie was disqualified after he turned in a card that had that wrong score on it. Andrie shot an 80 but one of the players in his group wrote down a 79 and when it was signed by the Vikings senior his second-day score was not counted.
Gariup was 4-over after four holes. Pressing to make a run as a team seemed to hurt the Vikings early. But once the last ball dropped in the cup the team took a collective breath and realized what they had accomplished.
“We had a great team, a great season,” Gariup said. “This is a great group of guys. We wanted more but this doesn't take away what we've done.”
Both Meihofer and Jacobs were named to the All-State team at the awards ceremony.
“It's bittersweet,” Valpo coach Wayne Lichtenberger said. “I'm losing six seniors. But this is a tremendous group. Our Day 1 hurt us a little. We tried to make a run (on Wednesday) but just couldn't get it done. Sometimes when you swing for the fences you hit it out of the park. Sometimes you miss.
“Look at them over there, they're all together. This was really a complete team.”
Meihofer was 1-under through the first six holes. But the next five holes brought four bogeys and one double. The Illinois State-bound recruit, though, showed his game birdieing three of his last four holes to end his prep career.
“We felt a little bit of pressure,” Meihofer said. “We gave it a little more of a push (on Wednesday) looking for a low number. We left a lot of shots out there.”