The Lake Central girls golf sectional came down to the final hole at Palmira Golf & Country Club.
Lake Central, Crown Point and Munster finished first, second and third, respectively — advancing as teams to the Sept. 22 regional at Battle Ground Golf Club — but the three individual spots were still up for grabs on the 18th hole Friday.
Griffith’s Catherine Bryzcki scored an 88 to advance. But with only two spots left, Hammond Academy’s Hannah Heller, Highland’s Carly Stone and Hobart’s Skye Lipke were each tied with a 98.
That forced them into a playoff on the final hole, a par-3 that required a carry over water.
Hannah was the first to advance thanks to a par, and the senior couldn’t keep the tears from falling after extending her season.
“I owe it all to (The) First Tee and Bishop Noll,” Hannah said. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Hannah said The First Tee, an organization designed to introduce children of all ages and backgrounds to golf, and the girls golf coach at Bishop Noll, David Padilla who she often practices with, helped turn her into the player she is today.
She was also grateful to have the support of her father, Ron – who is Hammond Academy's coach. Ron remembers when Hannah first started playing golf, and he was proud of the toughness his daughter showed at the end.
“Under pressure, she came through,” Ron said. “She did a great job.”
Hannah was able to relax, but Stone and Lipke tied again on the 18th – causing a second playoff on the final hole.
Stone’s drive was solid, flying safely over the water and landing on the green, while Lipke’s drive took a trip through the trees. It didn’t get stuck and the junior made up for it shortly after with an excellent chip shot — giving herself a chance to advance. But, Stone carded a bogey to qualify for next weekend.
“I was really nervous,” Lipke said after coming up just short. “But I have next year.”
Stone doesn’t have another year, and as a senior, she’s excited to wear her uniform at least one more time.
“I was so happy,” Stone said. “During the middle of the course I was talking to the Griffith girl who is also going as well. Our homecomings are on the same day (as the regional), so we’re going to be golfing in the morning and dancing at night.”
The Indians won their seventh-consecutive sectional championship with an team score of 340. The victory was the first sectional title for coach Andy Gurnak, who was an assistant coach the last two years.
“This sectional was competitive,” Gurnak said. “We’ve seen Crown Point all year ... and Munster’s been playing really good golf lately. We knew it was going to be a challenge to come out on top, and we were happy to do that today.”
Lake Central's Dominique Colantuono earned medalist honors with an 81.
The Bulldogs took home second place with a score of 348, which was 43 strokes better than last season’s sectional performance. Crown Point coach Jennifer Vinovich attributed her team's success to its hard work, but also her players' ability to have fun.
“Our team is fabulous,” Vinovich said. “We have a lot of personality.”
Delaney Adams showed some of that personality by smiling and laughing with her coach and teammates after the tournament, and deservedly so. The sophomore tied for the second-lowest score of the day with an 84.
“My irons weren’t too good," Adams said. “But I pushed through it.”
Highlighted by Ananya Sharma's 84, the Mustangs were the final team to advance with a score of 376.
Munster coach Bill Smitka said his team got off to a slow start, but added that he was pleased with how much poise his players showed on the course.
“The girls probably didn’t play as well as they might have liked,” Smitka said. “We left a couple shots out there. But the goal was to move on and we did that, so we’re happy.”
Rachel Pratchett became the first River Forest girls golfer to compete in a sectional tournament when she teed off Friday. She was pleased to make history for the Ingots, but not satisfied with her score. She said inconsistency in her swing caused her to shoot a 132.
“My putting was really bad today,” Pratchett said. “But as for positives, my irons came in clutch for me today.”
Pratchett said it was more welcoming to play alongside all girls, unlike her past two seasons when she played on the River Forest boys team during the regular season.
River Forest coach Matt Wendell said he was proud of Pratchett, regardless of her score, and he looks forward to returning next season with a bigger roster.
“She’s breaking down barriers,” Wendell said. “The sky’s the limit at River Forest moving forward because she’s broken that barrier. ... Next year we’ll come out and compete for an actual team score, rather than an individual score.”