YORK — It was not a particularly good day, or even a great week for Mariano Medico on his mission to become a PIAA golf champion.
One magical putt changed all that instantly.
Because it helped Holy Redeemer strike state gold.
Medico followed Chase Makowski’s dramatic par shot with one of his own Wednesday, leading the Royals past Wyomissing, 18-24 in a one-hole playoff in the PIAA Class 2A boys golf championships at Heritage Hills Golf Resort.
It was the first team state title in any sport in Holy Redeemer’s seven-year history.
“I can’t even put into words how happy I am right now,” Makowski said.
“It was really the greatest experience for me in my four years,” Medico said.
Maybe because he had so much help.
Fellow seniors Mike Borland (84) and Andrew Crossin (87) complemented Makowski, who led the Royals with a 77 through the 18 holes of regulation play.
“I started pretty badly, 5-over through my first five,” Makowski said. “I just reached down and said, ‘I have to pull through for the team.’ ”
That extra effort helped cover for Medico’s 79, a score that was disappointing to Holy Redeemer’s team leader. Medico, a two-time District 2 Class 2A champion, shot over par during the previous two days of the PIAA Class 2A boys individual championships to finish sixth overall.
“I didn’t play well today,” Medico said. “Hit a couple squirrely tee shots that cost me. I just tried to shoot under 80, and the team picked me up.”
Then came the downer.
When the team scores were added up, the Royals were locked in a tie with Wyomissing.
The two teams were tied at the end of regulation in the 2012 Class 2A state team finals, when Wyomissing pulled out the gold medal in a playoff on the par-4 18th hole.
Same teams, same hole, same stakes on the line and many of the same golfers in both lineups Wednesday.
“The odds of that happening have to be greater than getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery,” Medico said.
Much to their dismay, the Royals had to go back into the biting cold, spits of drizzle and cruel wind for one more hole.
They thought they’d won it on the card of a fifth golfer (only the four lowest cards on each team count in the scoring), when Redeemer’s No. 5 Ryan Crossin shot a 94 in regulation and Wyomissing’s fifth golfer, Bennett Conlin, finished with a 98. And the Royals were under the mistaken impression only a tie between each team’s fifth golfers forced last year’s state playoff hole.
“I thought about 90 percent, for sure, we took the fifth score last year,” Makowski said. “Obviously, it wasn’t in the rule book. We did the right thing, I guess. A playoff’s the only way to decide it.”
“We were under the impression it came to the fifth score, but it didn’t,” Holy Redeemer coach Art Brunn Jr. said. “They only count four of them. You don’t need to bring five players. It’s really (scored) on a four-man team, technically.”
No technicalities this time.
The Royals came in looking for redemption for last year’s heartbreak.
Makowski and Medico made sure they got the gold.
Both navigated their approach shots over the large pond that sits in front of the 18th green and avoided a dangerous sand trap that sits to the right of the hole.
Makowski had the first crack at the hole, and ripped off a beauty.
He stepped on the green and pulled a 15-foot par putt from left to right and straight into the cup, pumping his fist in triumph.
“One of the greatest feelings of my life,” Makowski said.
Then Medico stepped up for his shot an uphill 8-footer for another par.
“I was upset with myself because of how I played today,” Medico said. “If we lost, that really would have been my fault. The last hole, all the feelings, the emotions, it just inspired me to get the job done.”
He did, smoothly dropping the putt and picking up that elusive state championship trophy.
It was the only state golf title this season for a team from District 2, as the Abington Heights boys finished fifth in the Class 3A state team finals, and the Holy Cross girls in Class 3A and Scranton Prep girls in Class 2A also finished fifth.
Redeemer’s first-place finish was secured when both Borland and Crossin finished their playoff hole with bogeys. Medico and Makowski were the only two players to hit par on the playoff hole. Wyomissing’s Nate Menon and Tommy Heck both went one-over and neither of their two teammates came closer than that.
In an instant, Redeemer’s house of horrors named Heritage Hills was transformed into a Taj Mahal for the Royals team celebrating.
“There are rumors they may hold the state championships somewhere else next year,” Brunn Jr. said. “If I never come back here again, it won’t be soon enough. But I have good memories now. It makes all the long hours of practice, all the days we spent practicing in the rain, all the hard work, it makes it all worthwhile. I’m very proud of the guys. We were so distraught after that loss last year. We felt it was time to redeem ourselves.
“I don’t know if I’d have been able to drive home if we lost another state final on the 18th hole.”
Instead, the four Redeemer seniors didn’t stop driving until they found what they came for.
“Actually, to beat the same team under the conditions on the last hole of my high school career has to be one of the best feelings ever,” said Makowski, who will team up again with his fast friend Medico next season when the two golf for Monmouth University. “I’m happy for Mariano, I love the kid. I’m just so happy I’m going to be with him for the next four years.”
“The one thing I’m going to take from high school,” Medico said, “is every shot counts. I’m going to always remember that lesson.”
Holy Redeemer (317) (18)
Mariano Medico 40-39-79, 4
Chase Makowski 36-41-77, 4
Mike Borland 42-42-84, 5
Andrew Crossin 42-45-87, 5
Wyomissing (317) (24)
Nate Menon 38-38-76, 5
Tommy Heck 45-41-86, 5
Nat Galen 43-44-87, 7
Brock Lovach 40-38-78, 7
(Last number indicates playoff hole score)