Park Hill senior Sam Paulak and Park Hill South senior Miranda Steczak tend to have fun when they play together — maybe a little too much fun.
“I love playing with Miranda, but sometimes I think it’s hard for me to focus,” Paulak said after winning the Pirate Invitational on Wednesday, Sept. 7 with a 13-over 84 at Shiloh Springs Golf Course. “I just didn’t find my groove today.”
“Sorry about that,” said Steczak, who came in third in the field of 50 golfers.
“It’s all good. I still had fun,” Paulak responded.
Coming off the best round of her career the previous week, Paulak recorded just one birdie in a tournament that required golfers to play the ball down in the rough. She and Steczak joked about “takin’ Ls all day long,” referring to higher scores on some of the holes.
Paulak, Steczak and Platte County’s Kasydie Shipp started on 12, and Paulak made just two pars in her first six holes before recording a birdie on the par-4 first. She parred half of her final 12 holes but also took a triple bogey at No. 7, seemingly just a few tough holes away from building on her 4-under 70 when she won the St. Joseph Central Invitational.
“Honestly, even there, you always think you have room for improvement,” said Paulak, who beat Smithville’s Trace Mosby by two shots for the title in the Pirate Invitational. “I didn’t think I actually played that great (in St. Joseph), but I started finding my mindset that helps me stay on track.”
Paulak’s 84 helped Park Hill take the team title after the Trojans finished tied with Smithville with dueling 373s.
In addition to Paulak, Park Hill’s Lexi Grego captured a medal with an eighth-place finish (91), while junior Kelbey Emerson shot a 97, including a highlight birdie putt. She missed a medal this time around but has been a big part of helping the Trojans improve team finishes this year, and the 30-foot bender at No. 10 provided a somewhat unexpected moment that helped Park Hill win the team crown.
“I didn’t think it was going to go in,” Emerson said. “I know I’ve improved. I can hit my clubs better. I just have to get off the tee more consistently.”
Steczak also avoided most big numbers on the way to her 88 but recorded just three pars. Her roughest stretch came between Nos. 1 and 3, going bogey, triple bogey, double bogey.
In addition, Park Hill South’s Erica Edmisten (ninth, 93) and Grace Cunningham (10th, 94) also finished in the medal spots, but the Panthers’ top player struggling through some bogey holes helped them to a team 379 — good for third place — despite playful criticism of her play on the round.
“I’ve never been more terrified of every shot in my life,” Steczak said. “I go into every tournament not knowing what’s coming. Golf is a very inconsistent game, and you’ve just got to hope for the best.”
Cunningham took the 10th and final medal in a tiebreaker over Platte County’s sophomore tandem of Kasydie and Jessalyn Shipp, who also shot 94s. The Pirates’ almost interchangeable top two players continued to post nearly identical scores, helping Platte County place fifth in the team standings with a 415.
On Wednesday, Kasydie posted five straight double bogeys to start her round while playing with Paulak and Steczak before finishing with six pars and three bogeys. Jessalyn Shipp had a quadruple bogey and three triples but also recorded five pars and a birdie at No. 10.
“It’s kind of motivating, too,” Kasydie Shipp said of matching her sister. “It keeps me thinking I need to stay where I am to stay with her.”
The Shipps have become the unquestioned leaders for Platte County coach Trevor Short and have continued to push each other with their scores having remained so competitive this season. McKennah Houlahan (113), Taylor Holbrook (114) and Abby White (117) rounded out the Pirates’ scores in their home tournament.
“Today was just a rough day. We can definitely do better,” Kasydie Shipp said.
Tom Stout Invitational
Paulak took medalist honors again Monday, Sept. 12 in Smithville, Mo., but this time, Park Hill finished second to Smithville in the team standings.
With three golfers in the top five, the Warriors totaled a 370 to take the team title in a field of 19 teams. The Trojans were second with a 375 on the par 72 Posse Course at Paradise Point Golf Complex.
Paulak’s 76 beat Smithville’s Savannah Oesterle by 10 shots, and Warriors teammates Trace Mosby and Sydney Durbin tied for third with 87s. However, Park Hill stuck close in the team chase thanks to Paulak, a 12th-place effort for Emerson (95) and Lexi Grego and Victoria Vo coming in as part of a three-way tie for 14th with 102s.
Platte County ended up fourth with a 419, beating out Liberty North by four strokes.
Kasydie Shipp led the Pirates with a fifth-place finish, shooting an 89. Jessalyn Shipp was again not far behind with a 92 — good for a seventh-place tie.
Platte County coach Trevor Short called the tournament good experience with the Pirates and both Park Hill schools set to play back on the Posse Course in the postseason.
Park Hill South sent a second-string varsity group to the tournament and ended up with a 444, just enough to place seventh. Raymore-Peculiar and Liberty tied for eighth one shot back.
Kate Eischens led Park Hill South with a 103.
Park Hill South’s top five traveled Monday, Sept. 12 to Blue Hills Country Club in Kansas City, Mo. for a big competition. The Panthers ended up seventh out of 18 teams and finished right in the middle of a muddled portion of the standings.
Behind a pair of 93s for Steczak and Edmisten, Park Hill South shot a team total of 382. Liberty placed third at 370, while Barstow and St. Teresa’s Academy tied for 10th at 398.
St. Joseph’s Academy ran away with the team title at 326.
Steczak and Edmisten tied for 20th, and Izzy Witzel was the next best finisher for Park Hill South with a 102.
Park Hill South 175, Liberty 212
Steczak took medalist honors Tuesday, Sept. 6 in Liberty, Mo. with a 38. Edmisten tied with Liberty’s Abby Howard for the second-best score.