Park Hill golf's Paulak refocuses in time to win conference title

SMITHVILLE, Mo. — Park Hill junior Sam Paulak ended up with little time to mentally prepare for the Suburban Conference Red Division Tournament. The two-sport standout athlete returned from a competition with her club soccer team Futura Forte Elite played in Rockford, Ill., on Saturday, Sept. 19. She squeezed in a practice round Sunday and ran away with the conference championship on Monday, Sept. 21 at Paradise Pointe Golf Complex, carding a 3-over 75 on the Posse Course.

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Park Hill junior Sam Paulak eyes her tee shot on the par-4 No. 10 hole during the Suburban Conference Red Division Tournament held Monday, Sept. 21 on the Posse course at Paradise Pointe Golf Complex in Smithville, Mo.

“It was hard to prepare for this,” Paulak said. “I was trying to get focused by playing right after my soccer games yesterday. It ended up working I guess.”

Paulak, who recently verbally committed to Drake University to extend both her golf and soccer career in college, shot even par on the front nine and carded three birdies. The low scores helped her come in four strokes ahead of Liberty’s Kelsi Schmitz.

Next up for Paulak, at least in golf, will be the postseason where she looks to qualify for the Class 2 Missouri State Golf Championships for a second straight season.

“I’ve slowly improved this whole year in 2015,” Paulak said. “My scores just keep improving. I just have to keep working though to make sure it stays that way. It makes me a little more nervous, I don’t want to run out of these good days.

“I know I need to keep working. It comes with practice.”

Park Hill ended up second as a team with a 377 team score, coming in 21 strokes behind champion Liberty. Park Hill South shot a season-best 383 but came up short of unseating its rivals for the runner up spot.

Miranda Steczak led the third-place Panthers, grabbing a podium spot with a 12-over 84 — good for third place. Grace Dunker and Ali Buehler also earned all-conference honors finishing seventh and 12th, respectively.

Steczak set a new personal best that included a 35 on the front nine.

“It’s just a good barometer of where we’re at and what we need to do to advance beyond next week,” Park Hill South coach Tracy Mangels said. “We’re going to have to keep improving.”

All four counting scores for Park Hill earned all-conference honors. Shea Hoover finished eighth, Victoria Vo 13th and Lexi Grego took the final spot on the all-conference team, finishing 15th after winning a scorecard playoff with Park Hill South’s Grace Cunningham after the pair shot matching 102s.

Suburban Conference Blue Division Tournament

Platte County broke the 400-stroke mark for the first time all season, and all five golfers earned All-conference honors Monday, Sept. 21 on the Outlaw Course at Paradise Pointe Golf Complex.

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County's Emma Reynolds hits a drive Monday, Sept. 21 in the Suburban Conference Blue Division Tournament at Paradise Point Golf Complex in Smithville, Mo.

Emma Reynolds, a senior generally playing at No. 4 for the Pirates, carded the low round and came in third with a 95 — 18 strokes behind medalist Ann Zech of Kearney. Zech led the Bulldogs to the team crown with their 363 with the Pirates 36 shots behind at 399 with only four of six teams having enough golfers to qualify for the team standings.

Platte County freshmen Jessalyn and Kasydie Shipp and senior Kortney Rogers rounded out the four counting scores for the Pirates. The Shipps finished back-to-back at fifth and sixth, while Rogers came in ninth.

Abby White earned honorable mention all-conference honors after finishing 12th with a 114.

“It was very exciting to see that,” Platte County coach Trevor Short said. “The girls are playing a bit better. We haven’t had that low of a score before. We had some good practices last week which I think led into the quality of golf we had out there today.”

Tom Stout Memorial

In the final regular season tournament of the season, Platte County placed fifth out of 22 teams Tuesday, Sept. 15 on The Posse Course at Paradise Point Golf Complex in Smithville, Mo. Jessalyn Shipp snagged a medal with a 12th-place finish after shooting 98. Kasydie Shipp followed right behind in 14th at 100.

Paulak won another tournament, shooting 1-over on the front side on the way to a 4-over 76. She beat Smithville’s Abby Harmeyer and Trace Mosby by 10 shots, but the duo helped the Warriors win the team title with a 387 — two shots better than Park Hill.

Vo and Grego were next for Park Hill, part of a three-way tie for 19th at 103.

Liberty 178, Liberty North 183, Park Hill South 185, St. Joseph Central 188

In a hotly contested quad Wednesday, Sept. 16 at The Deuce in Parkville, Mo., the two Liberty teams took the top spots.

Liberty North featured the top two individuals, including medalist Lauren Birkness (41), while Park Hill South was the only squad with all five players in the 40s. For the Panthers, Miranda Steczak was in a three-way tie for the fourth-best score at 45, while Grace Dunker and Grace Cunningham were right behind with 46s.

Smithville 200, Platte County 212

The Pirates were competitive with a top-tier Class 1 foe but lost by 12 strokes Thursday, Sept. 17 at Shiloh Springs Golf Course in Platte City. Jessalyn Shipp led the way with a 12-over 49.

"The ladies were focused and were making the necessary adjustments to their game to produce lower scores,” Short said. “We put a lot of emphasis on our short game which has been a struggle for us lately. The hard work they put in at practice helped our team to play competitively with a highly talented Smithville team.”