Girls golf: Chesterton’s Kelly Grassel sets state finals mark; wins 2nd straight title
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or firstname.lastname@example.org September 29, 2012 7:04PM
Chesterton High School's Kelly Grassel watches as her ball heads down the fairway. High school girls from across the state competed Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012, in the final round of the 40th Annual IHSAA Girls Golf State Finals at The Legends of Indiana Golf Club in Franklin. | Doug McSchooler~for the Post-Tribune
Updated: November 1, 2012 6:52AM
FRANKLIN — Some people wilt under pressure in sports. And when it’s golf, where competitors are alone on the tee or fairway or green with possible negative thoughts creeping inside their head, it can be worse.
But Kelly Grassel eats pressure for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Her second-to-last shot as a Chesterton High School golfer proved it.
It was 81 yards from the pin on the ninth hole (she started her round on the 10th hole for the second straight day) on the left side of the fairway. Grassel admitted she didn’t know exactly where she sat in the standings — for the record, she was in first by one stroke — but knew she was close.
She responded to any sort of pressure that might have been in her head with one of the best shots any golfer could imagine. She stuck it a foot from the hole.
“It was like a half foot,” she joked.
Even more impressive. It was an easy birdie to not only win her second IHSAA individual state title on Saturday at Legends of Indiana Golf Club, but it set a scoring record for the girls state finals — a 7-under-par 137.
“It’s hard to come up with new adjectives to describe her,” Chesterton coach Dale Hewitt said. “Pressure means nothing to her. She’s oblivious to it. She just reproved how great she is. Most of the golfers I talked to after the round said they wouldn’t have been able to stand over that (approach) shot.”
Not Grassel. She has ice water in her veins. Not only didn’t she feel any pressure, she almost knew she was going to pepper the pin.
“I was thinking more about it being my last hole ever,” Grassel said about her near-perfect approach. “It was so emotional. I just wanted to stick it close, especially with the pin in the front of the green. It was just asking for me to hit it close.”
She improved upon her 3-under-par on Friday by one stroke, and edged her future Michigan State teammate, Katherine Sharp of East Noble, by two shots. Sharp led most of the day, but Grassel bounced back from a bogey on her third hole (12th) with a birdie on the 13th, five straight pars and four more birdies on her back nine.
The Trojans finished seventh, just behind Valparaiso, which tied for fifth after shooting a 328 team score on Saturday. Vikings coach Bill Miller believes it could be the lowest 18-hole score for a Valparaiso girls squad.
“I’m overly happy,” Miller said. “Our team rose to the challenge today. Some teams come to the state finals and fall short of expectations. Our team exceeded its expectations.”
And the Vikings were led by the second-best golfer in Northwest Indiana, and officially the third-best in the state. After a slightly disappointing 73 on Friday, Harley Dubsky started strong on Saturday, shooting a 3-under-par 69 to finish 1-under for the tournament.
“I knew I had to be aggressive — it’s the only way to go for me,” said Dubsky, who played the par-5s much better on Saturday with an eagle and birdie. “No reason to play it safe. I don’t like to play conservative.”