FRANKLIN | Kelly Grassel knew she was a few shots behind Katherine Sharp during Saturday's final round of the girls state golf tournament at the Legends Golf Club.
However, she didn’t know she was a full five shots behind going into her back nine on the course.
“Someone told me that she (Katherine) was way under par after 12 holes,” Grassel said. “Coming into the back nine, I knew I’d be close to her because I started making a lot of birdies.”
Grassel, who started the day at 3-under, had made three birdies on her round as she headed into the ninth hole.
She sat at minus 6 and -- she didn’t know it at the time -- had a one shot lead over Sharp, who fell from 7-under to finish with a 69 and 5-under overall.
She took her approach shot on the ninth and stuck it six inches away from the pin.
“It was my last hole, so I was kind of emotional,” Grassel said. “I was like, 'Alright, let’s stick this close.' The green is on the flatter spot, so it was an easy pin on this hole, so I knew I could hit a good shot.”
She made her birdie putt to finish with a 68 at minus 7, good for 7-under overall, and her second individual state championship.
Her score of 137 broke the record set in 1999 by Leigh Anne Hardin of Martinsville, who shot 139 (-5) at Prestwick Country Club in Avon.
Grassel is also the first repeat champion since Angela Gauck, who won 2004 and 2005.
“It’s amazing to say that I broke the record,” Grassel said. “I knew I had a chance to do it (Friday), and I was thinking about how I have the chance to do something amazing, and I pulled it off. It feels awesome.”
“Pressure does not bother her,” Chesterton coach Dale Hewitt said. “Under all that pressure, she stuck it to less than a foot. It’s incredible. She’s a great player, and everyone knows that.
"She just re-proved it again today.”
Grassel said that she was more comfortable on her back nine on Friday and Saturday. She shot even par on holes 10-18 both days, and -7 on holes 1-9, and gives credit to her wedge play from the fairway.
“I was keeping the ball in play. I kept hitting in the fairway and I just kept sticking pins, on my 18th and 13th holes. I was just really dialed in with my wedge shots,” Grassel said.
Grassel also won the mental attitude award. The team captain has a 3.98 GPA and is planning on attending Michigan State on a golf scholarship.
Marissa Kroeger shot a 79 for the Trojans after her round was disqualified on Friday, while Nicole Dutz (90) and Grace Davis (92) helped the Trojans finish the day with a 329 and good for seventh overall (669).
“I’m very proud of the way the team preformed,” Hewitt said. “Marissa shot another 79 after her DQ, and that’s just awesome. That’s incredible to have the fortitude to come back and do that.
"Not everyone had the best day, but they all fought hard and not one of them gave up. I couldn’t be any prouder of them. They’re all champions in my mind."
Yorktown took the state title with a 625 (319-306), while Carmel took second at 639 (321-318).
Valparaiso started the day tied for sixth place and gained six shots on its round to finish in a tie for fifth at 662 with Evansville North.
Harley Dubsky, who started the day at +2 and five shots back of Grassel, finished at -1 for third place.
“After (Friday), I wanted to move up as much as I can,” said Dubsky, who shot a 74-69 for a total of 143. “Five shots back is a big deficit to make up when everyone is playing pretty good.
"But I’m happy with it, and I did what I needed to do to and go low.”
Jennifer Gough shot an 80 and Lauren Caputo shot an 83, matching their scores from Friday. Brooke Fullenkamp, who had been shooting in the mid-90’s during sectional and regional, shot an 83.
“I was hoping (to finish) somewhere in the top 10, so where we’re at, that’s awesome,” Valparaiso coach Bill Miller said. “(Friday) I thought if we could shoot this (a 334, today), this would be awesome, and we went out and shot six shots better.”
Lake Central’s Kiana Jongsma finished tied for 36th with an 80 and teammate Kylie Shoemake ended in a tie for 57th with an 81.
Crown Point’s Tiffany Curtis shot a 97 over the two days to finish in 92nd place.