SPRINGETTSBURY — To Marple Newtown senior Sam Soeth, a tie for PIAA Tournament sounded pretty good. To Radnor sophomore Brynn Walker, a tie for fifth was a little bit of a disappointment.
But both drove home from York County Tuesday with state medals in Class AAA, and those can be hard to come by. Soeth is the first Delco male to claim a medal at states since Strath Haven's Conrad Von Borsig finished fifth in 2004. Walker is the first Delco female to win a state medal since Chichester's Aurora Kan struck gold in winning the 2010 PIAA championship.
The Heritage Hills Golf Resort course played tough, with some of the pin positions and the speed of the greens coming in for some criticism, but Soeth got off to fast start with birdies on three of the first four holes and held it together for a 4-over 75 over the 6,700-yard, par-71 layout.
That left him in a tie for fifth with three other players at 10-over 152.
Walker, meanwhile, basically had four bad holes on her way to a second consecutive 80 over the course, which measures 5,375 yards and plays to a par of 72 for the girls. That left her in a tie for fifth at 16-over 160.
Soeth made All-Delco as a freshman and then spent a couple of frustrating seasons unable to get past the District One Tournament. He channeled all that frustration into forging a three-week postseason run that included a tie for third at districts, a tie for 14th at the East Region Tournament that earned him a ticket to Heritage Hills and a tie for fifth and that state medal Tuesday.
"The greens are weird here, it's just hard to trust your lines,' Soeth said after his 75 enabled him to move up a couple of spots after sitting in a tie for seventh entering the second round. "You start to play defensive golf and that's a tough way to play.
"I played a practice round on Sunday and I played pretty well. It was tough, but everybody had to play it.'
Soeth dropped in a seven-foot birdie putt on the first, an eight-footer for another birdie at the second and a 10-foot birdie putt at the fourth, and he was off and running.
"I really thought I had a good round going,' Soeth said.
He cooled off with a bogey at four, a bogey at five and a double bogey at the par-3 eighth, where he was bunkered off the tee and three-putted. He added bogeys at 11, 14 and 18, but his 4-over total was among one of the better rounds on a day when none of the boys in the Class AAA field matched par, let alone finished under par.
Soeth sat and watched his result look better and better as the scores were posted.
"The scores were definitely higher today,' Soeth said. "It's nice to get a medal.'
Soeth's Central League rival, Conestoga junior Andrew Willner, had a one-shot lead going to the 18th hole in his bid for a state title, but his approach shot to the 471-yard, par-4 18th hole found the water and Upper St. Clair's Grant Engel dropped in a 12-foot par putt to grab the crown.
Engel had a 73 for a 5-over 147 total that was two shots better than Willner, whose second-round 76 left him at 7-over 149. It's the best finish for a Central League player since Lower Merion's Greg Jarmas was the runnerup in 2009.
Walker came to Heritage Hills thinking about adding a PIAA title to the Pennsylvania Junior Girls crown she won last summer, a double achieved by Radnor's Jackie Calamaro in 2009.
But some of the typically tough holes at Heritage Hills jumped up and bit her. She putted off the green at the par-3 fifth — and she was not the only player to do that Tuesday — and had a double bogey. A couple of loose shots on the sixth led to a triple-bogey 7.
She righted the ship with five straight pars, a birdie at the 170-yard, par-3 12th where she stuck her tee shot two feet away, and a par at 13. But she three-putted 14 for a bogey and the 16th for a double bogey before two balls in the water at the 18th resulted in a finishing double-bogey 7.
"I have got to figure out how to play this golf course,' said Walker, who still owns a PIAA gold medal as a member of Radnor's PIAA Class AAA team champion as a freshman a year ago. "I think the greens were faster this year.
"I hit some good shots, but I put myself in places you can't be on this course a couple of times.'
Regardless, Walker was probably not going to contend for the title this year. Mount St. Joseph junior Isabella DiLisio, the District One champion a year ago, won the title in dramatic fashion when she holed a 25-foot eagle putt to deny Council Rock North senior Erica Herr a third state title. The eagle gave DiLisio a final-round 73 for a 4-over 148 total.
Herr actually finished in a tie for third as, shaken by DiLisio's bomb, she took four putts on the 18th. Pennsbury junior Jackie Rogowicz, runnerup to Herr a year ago, finished second again, two shots back of DiLisio.
•••NOTES: Downingtown West's Liam McAnally, who began his scholastic career at Garnet Valley before his family moved, was one of the other three players who shared fifth place with Soeth. He had rounds of 78 and 74. ... Bishop Shananhan's Kevin Conners, who had a share of second place with Willner entering the second round, had an 80, but grabbed a medal with a ninth-place finish at 153. ... Isaiah Logue of Fairfield claimed the AA boys crown with a birdie at the final hole for the day's best round a 2-under 69. ... Macky Fouse of Central Valley won the AA girls title with a second-round 77 for a 152 total.