YORK — Lauren Thiele of Wahoo had her quest for the 56th Nebraska Girls’ Match Play Championship derailed by one of the best in the state Wednesday.
Megan Whittaker of Elkhorn defeated Thiele 4 and 3 in the semifinals at the York Country Club. The 2016 match play champion then went on to defeat 14-year-old Kate Strickland of Lincoln 3 and 2 for the 2018 title.
For the boys, Alex Zillig of La Vista will face Ryan Rogers for the 29th Nebraska Junior Match Play Championship on Thursday.
Whittaker built a 5-up lead on the front nine against Strickland. The 2017 Class A state champion had birdies on No. 2, 3 and 5 while building her lead.
Strickland fought back by winning the par-5 No. 12, but Whittaker drained a 10-foot par putt on No. 16 to close out the match.
Strickland advanced to the final after a marathon match against Seward’s Kendra Placke. She finally triumphed with a birdie on the par-3 4th hole to win in 22 holes.
Zillig, the No. 1 seed, survived a tough quarterfinal match against Omaha’s Rex Soulliere, winning 1 up on the 18th hole. Zillig then defeated Beatrice’s Graham Southwick 4 and 3 in the semifinals
Rogers had the shot of the championship at the best possible time in his match against Dalton Mogul of York.
Rogers was 3-up with three to play heading to the 16th hole. His tee shot on the 165-yard par-3 landed just short, right of the hole, bounced, spun and dropped. The hole-in-one gave Rogers a 4 and 2 win, and sent him to the Final to face Zillig.
In 2016, Alex Schaake of Omaha made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole at The Pines Country Club in Valley to advance to the final. Schaake, currently a member of the Iowa golf team, won the title the next day.