KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miranda Steczak saved her best round of the season — so far — for the Class 2 District 8 tournament.
With a 10-over showing Monday, Sept. 26 at Shoal Creek Golf Course, the Park Hill South senior earned her first district title in somewhat of a surprise showing. She lamented uneven play in recent weeks but topped a stacked field, nearly leading the Panthers to a runner-up showing and a guaranteed spot in Sectional 4 play next week.
“I did really well today; I’m happy with how I played,” said Steczak, who finished 10th last year in districts. “At first it was a little rocky, but I started to get my groove and things really started to fall in to place for me.”
As expected, Liberty took first with a 352, while Park Hill South’s 359 appeared good enough for second right until the very end.
Staley’s final two golfers turned in an 88 and a 91 to dramatically jump the Panthers for the second spot. However, five golfers for Park Hill South were in the top 15 individuals (including ties) not from the top two teams, meaning they can post a team score Monday, Oct. 3 in Sectional 4 play at Paradise Point Golf Complex in Smithville, Mo.
Park Hill qualified four and also allowing the Trojans to compete for a team spot at state, although Victoria Vo’s season ended.
Sam Paulak, a senior and two-time state qualifier, shot an 18-over and came in a disappointing tie for 10th at 89 after an early miscue rattled the experience player. However, she still has time to regain her form in an effort to make a state return and possibly finish in an all-state position.
Each of the past two years she missed the top 15 by exactly one stroke.
“I played this course earlier this year and I did fine,” Paulak said of her district round. “It was just on the first hole I thought I was almost disqualified for one of my ruling choices which I thought was kind of silly. I guess I let that set the tone for the day too much. I didn’t think I did, but I let it show.
“I wasn’t nervous, but I just wasn’t there.”
Steczak took advantage of Paulak’s struggles, posting a 10-over to beat Liberty’s due of Katie Parrott and Brianna Walker by two strokes. The low round helped put Park Hill South in the team hunt with teammate Erica Edmisten the next-best finisher in a tie for 12th with a 90.
Sadora Franklin (tied for 15th) while Grace Cunningham and Izzy Nitzel tied for the final sectional spots in a six-way tie for 23rd.
Park Hill junior Kelbey Emerson and Platte County sophomore Jessalyn Shipp were tied with Franklin for 15th to earn all-district spots. Kasydie Shipp, another sophomore, also managed to qualify for sectionls with a 95, giving the Pirates two in the postseason’s second round for a second straight year.
“I honestly didn’t think I was doing too bad,” Jessalyn Shipp said, unsure originally of where she would end up in the standings. “There were of course a few holes that were shaky, but this course has played hard for some of the best players out here today.”
The Shipp sisters recently led Platte County to the first Suburban Conference Blue Division title in program history.
Last season, both reached the sectional round but only Jessalyn moving on to state. Pirates coach Trevor Short knows both will want to play better next week to have a shot at advancing together this time around.
“It was a rough day out there for them,” he said. “They didn’t quite shoot what we’d hope they’d shoot today. Hopefully, today it’s just kind of survive and move on so we can get to the next round.”
In addition to Emerson, Lexi Grego (17th) and Shea Hoover (part of the tie for 23rd) also advanced to sectionals for Park Hill to give the Trojans the requisite four needed to keep the team season alive. Grego played in sectionals last year and missed the state cut by two strokes.
Emerson and Hoover are both first-time qualifiers.