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Katherine Hepler

Normal U-High's Katherine Hepler, of Lincoln, won the individual title at the Girls Golf Class A State Tournament and helped U-High to a team title.

DECATUR - The wind may have let up from Friday at Red Tail Run Golf Club. But Katherine Hepler didn't.

The Normal U-High senior by way of Lincoln finished the two-day Class A State Girls Golf Tournament with a 148 to win first-place individually and help Normal U-High (686) finish one stroke better than Nashville to take first place in the 12-team field.

"We were 10 strokes ahead going into today, but I knew it was only going to get tougher out there - especially with how close Nashville was getting to us today," said Hepler, who won her first state title after not playing golf her junior year. "It feels very good that I could help my team out and also win an individual title."

And the University of Illinois commit did it without being on top of her game Saturday.

"I really don't think anything was working that well for me today," said Hepler, who was six strokes over on Saturday (77) from Friday (71).

After her first six holes, Hepler was already 5-over.

"That was adding up pretty close to a 90," she said. "I knew I had to get myself together. There was no way I could keep shooting like that and have us stay in contention. I told myself that I had a team to work for and a match to win."

She went on to birdie No. 7 and par 8 through 14.

"My maturity kicked-in after hole 6, I guess," said Hepler, who also birdied hole 18 to secure Normal U-High's one stroke-lead over Nashville.

Individually, Hepler was able to maintain her 6-stroke lead over the rest of the field. Norridge Ridgewood's Sabrina Bonanno took second with a 154.

Bonanno was tied for fourth after Friday, but improved her Day 2 round (75) by four strokes to jump ahead of Champaign St. Thomas More senior Sierra Myerscough, who shot 155 for third place. Rounding out the top 5 was Shawn Rennegarbe (157) of Nashville and Heather McDaniel (158) Pinckneyville.

Team-wise, Massac County (701) was third, St. Thomas More (712) was fourth and Woodstock Marian (720) was fifth.

Area golfers

Maddy Burgett improved from a 93 on Friday to an 88 on Saturday. The Charleston junior, who finished tied for 47th place, credits the five-stroke upgrade on her

putting.

"After yesterday's round I went to the putting green and focused on what I was doing wrong," said Burgett, who finished on the front nine to shoot a 40 with a birdie on hole 3. "It was better today. I just slowed down and really took my time."

But she still can't wait to get rid of the putter she used throughout the Class A tournament.

"I still had some three-putts today, though," Burgett said of two double bogeys and a triple bogey on the back nine.

Those three-putts drew the line for her, even after the birdie.

"She told me the relationship with her putter hadn't changed any," Charleston coach Deb Landsaw joked. "She wants to have a ceremony and bury it or burn it or something."

Other area golfers saw their scores improve on Day 2.

Vandalia junior Raechelle Leiken finished with a 173 and tied for 29th after bettering three strokes for an 85.

Ashley Miller, a Mount Zion freshman, had an 88 for a 177 and a 36th-place finish.

Arcola-Arthur senior Alanna Dukeman tied for 60th and shot 187 after a 92 on Saturday.

"Considering the wind yesterday and the way I was putting today, I'm glad I at least finished in the 90's," said Dukeman, who made her first and only state appearance. "This was a good accomplishment."

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