UNIVERSITY PARK - Olivia Stever led her closest competition by six strokes, was playing even par golf and seemed well on her way to her first District 6 girls golf championship through eight holes Wednesday at the Penn State White Course.
Then rain caused the entire round to be wiped out.
Forced to play the holes over again Thursday, Stever struggled. The Tyrone senior finished the first eight holes at 5-over par and trailed Bellefonte's Alyssa Sinclair by a stroke.
That was when things changed. Stever nearly drove the green on the par-4 ninth hole, and her chip stopped 6 feet from the hole. She made the birdie putt while Sinclair recorded a double bogey. From there, Stever held off her competition while shooting an 80 and took home the district title by two strokes.
"It was really hard to rebound at first, because I was really in the zone yesterday," Stever said. "I was feeling it, and it was really hard for me to get back to that mindset for today. It was mentally very rough.
"I am very excited that I did win the championship, though. It kind of almost doesn't seem real, because I've always been close, but I've never actually done it. Now that I have, I feel pretty happy."
Stever finished second a year ago behind State College's Sara Jackson, qualified for the PIAA Western Regional and advanced to the state championships.
"I'm really happy for her," Tyrone coach Greg Ferguson said. "She has worked hard for it. She was at a point before our golf season started that she considered not playing this year, because she was frustrated with how she was playing over the summer.
"Even during the season, she really struggled. She didn't play up to where she's been until the last match of the season, but then she came through and has been building confidence, and it's the right time of the year for that."
Following the ninth hole, Stever's lead over Sinclair rose to four when the Bellefonte junior made three straight bogeys. Sinclair cut it in half on the par-3 14th hole by making birdie as Stever made a bogey, but Stever matched Sinclair on the final four holes to capture the gold.
"I knew that I needed to do something on that ninth hole," Stever said. "After my drive, being in a great spot so close to the hole, I needed to take advantage of it, which luckily I did."
Stever will join Sinclair and Bishop McCort's Kayla Orr, who shot an 84 to finish third, at Tom's Run in Blairsville Tuesday for the PIAA Western Regionals at 9 a.m.
"I'd like to go up to regionals and finish at least in the top three," Stever said. "But all in all, I just want to advance."
Also moving to regionals is team champion State College, who bested Hollidaysburg, 384-392, in a controversial decision following the disqualification of the Lady Tigers' Quincy Gildea for a rules violation.
KEY: T-Tyrone; SC-State College; SJ-St. Joseph's; BM-Bishop McCort; H-Hollidaysburg; WH-Westmont Hilltop; B-Bellefonte; CH-Cambria Heights
INDIVIDUAL COMPETITION (Top three advance): 1, Stever, T, 80; 2, Sinclair, SC, 82; 3, Orr, BM, 84; 4, Hughes, SC, 91; 5, Sommors, SC, 93; 6, Kuhns, H, 93; T-7, Bevan, SC, 95; T-7, Wilson, SC, 95; T-7, Rosensteel, H, 95; 10, Brustle, H, 97; 11, Rehill, SC, 98; 12, Golembeski, SC, 100; 13, Mosbrucker, WH, 103; Holdcroft, SC, 104; 15, Vogel, B, 105; 16, Spaid, CH, 106; 17, Love, H, 107; 18, Bonfilio, SJ, 109; 19, Thomson, BM, 112; 20, Thompson, WH, 116; 21, Bradley, BM, 121; 22, Wallace, BM, 125. WD-Plowman, United. DQ-Gildea, H.
TEAM COMPETITION (Champion advances): 1, State College 384; 2, Hollidaysburg 392; 3, Bishop McCort 442