Sarah Willis needed a strong finish Saturday to do what few have done — win a second straight state golf tournament.
How about birdies on the final three holes? That turned out to be more than enough as the Eaton High School senior rallied to a 1-under par, three-stroke victory at the Division II girls golf tournament on the OSU Gray Course.
“It was incredible to watch,” Eaton coach Tim Appledorn said. “She was steady throughout the day. You know she can play, but you just don’t know it it can happen.”
Willis, who will play at Penn State, started with 11 pars before getting a birdie on 12. After a bogey on 13, she regrouped for the strong finish and a 3-under 67. She thought she would be second because she expected Sophia Trombetta of Independence to follow her opening-round 68 with something better than the 74 Trombetta shot. Trombetta finished tied for second with Jill Schmitmeyer of St. Mary’s Memorial.
“I was thinking second at that point, and let’s see how low I can go on these last three holes,” Willis said. “It’s just awesome. That’s the only word that can describe it right now. I was really hoping I could do it.”
Up the road at Northstar Golf Course, Greeneview freshman Mason Witt was runner-up in the Division II boys tournament. Witt shot 72 to finish 3-under par. Springfield Shawnee senior Grant Engle finished tied for fourth in his second appearance.
Witt is the first Greeneview player to reach state, and he came without any expectations other than to play well, the same way he says he approaches every round. He was in third after an opening 68. He made six birdies Saturday, including three in the final six holes.
“It was a great experience to come here and play,” Witt said. “And as well as I played, it was fun.”
Alter’s young boys team (one senior) was third in Division II in its first appearance since 2012. The Knights posted their second-best score of the year in Friday’s first round.
“I was really happy with how we played,” Alter coach Alex Schuster said. “This is the first experience they’ve had at state, so I was really happy to get them that experience. We’re going to be just as strong if not stronger next year. And we’ll get ready to make another run.”
Oakwood’s boys placed fifth in Division II. In Division III boys at OSU Scarlet, Southeastern senior Avery Green placed second in his third state appearance. Nathan Osborn of Twin Valley South tied for seventh.
In Division II girls, Chaminade Julienne finished ninth in its ninth straight state appearance. The Eagles were followed by Versailles, Alter and St. Henry. Meghan Utterdyke of Middletown Fenwick was 20th and Makenna Jones of National Trail was 22nd.