CLYDE - The two top contenders, St. Joe's Connor Dudley and Calvert's Jeremy Hanna, went back and forth in an 18-hole struggle to determine the overall Midland Athletic League champion.
Because of a change in the format, the two played together, seemingly carrying the weight of the title with them from hole to hole.
Then a sophomore from Hopewell-Loudon played a ridiculous back 9 and walked off with the medal.
In the Midland Athletic League Meet Friday, the overall championship did come down to Dudley and Hanna, who each shot a 74. Because of the divisional shootouts, Dudley was awarded the league title for the fourth consecutive year, and St. Joe - which shot a 310 - took the team tournament title for the third straight season on the way to the overall championship.
Hanna, who knew he needed to beat Dudley's score, missed a birdie putt on 18 that would have given him the title. He settled for a par while Dudley bogeyed.
"I always thought the freshman year would be the toughest one. This one was the toughest one," said St. Joe coach Joe Dudley, Connor's father. "(Connor) struggled a little bit coming in. For him to bogey the last two holes, that's not at all like how Connor typically plays. But playing with Jeremy - those two were neck-and-neck all day - fun match to watch."
"We knew throughout where we stood," Connor the player said of his back-and-forth with Hanna. "It was a struggle. I didn't play good at all in my mind. I survived a lot, made a lot of little putts that I had to."
For his part, Hanna lamented some of his final holes - he double-bogeyed 15 and had took a five on the 17th.
"I played pretty well, I kinda just fell apart at the end," Hanna said. "A lot of missed opportunities. Overall I played pretty well, just couldn't get it done."
While Hanna and Dudley were struggling (for them, anyway) on the back 9, Hopewell-Loudon's Bryce Gorrell was owning it. He rolled to a 34 on the back 9 to finish with a 73, one shot better than Hanna and Dudley.
"I started making some birdie putts, started hitting greens, started giving myself chances," the sophomore said. "Some days, that's all you need. They just started falling."
Gorrell led the Chieftains to a 333, one stroke behind New Riegel for second place. The Blue Jackets were led by Andrew Hohman's 77, with all but one of their players breaking 90, a consistency that has led to their success. It also helped coach Mike Quinlan get recognized as the MAL Coach of the Year.
Quinlan said after his team's shootout play, the Blue Jackets knew they probably wouldn't finish first overall.
"Our goal was second, and that's what we did," Quinlan said.
North Baltimore finished fourth in the tournament, with Calvert coming in fifth at 357.
"[Players No.] 1-3 had good rounds," said Senecas coach Bob Williams. "Eighty-one for Johnny Hays is pretty much what his talent level says he should shoot. Matt Huffman, my No. 3 guy, shot an 88, which is his best round of the year."
St. Wendelin (360) finished behind Calvert, led by three players each shooting an 89. Old Fort finished at 370, led by Adam Alexander's 89.
Lakota shot a 369, led by Makayla Dull's 81. Dull, who played with a brace on her leg, said her round got better as it went along.
"On the back I wanted to go as low as I could, make up for the front," Dull said. "Try to get as many pars as I could, try to read my putts better, because that was kind of bad on the front."
Carey, led by Lincoln Stansberry's 85, finished ninth (370) with Seneca East (381), Mohawk (385) and Bettsville (495) rounding out the field.