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Hunter Pipik much prefers the feeling he had leaving the 18th green at the state tournament than the one he had walking off after his sectional round. 

The New Berlin West senior entered the clubhouse at the Racine Country Club unsure if his season-worst round of 81 was going to be good enough to earn one of three individual spots from non-qualifying teams to the state tournament. 

As it turned out, it was just good enough, which allowed Pipik to put forth the best round in WIAA Division 2 state tournament history, a 5-under-par 67 to win the state championship by six strokes over Ben Gilles of Madison Edgewood.

"When I came in with that score (81 at sectionals), I was very nervous," Pipik said. "I knew there were good players in that sectional. I definitely didn't think I was going to be moving through when I came in. I kind of just snuck in. But hey, that's all I needed.

"I like the feeling (I had walking off at state) rather than if it were flipped around." 

Pipik opened the two-day state meet at University Ridge in Madison with a 2-over-par 74 on June 5, leaving him tied for third, two strokes behind Gilles and one stroke back of Lukas Heckmann of Lakeside Lutheran. 

He opened the second round with five consecutive pars before recording birdies on the par-5 sixth and the par-4 seventh.

Pipik continued to play bogey-free golf, holding par for four consecutive holes before hitting birdies at the par-3 12th and par-4 13th to move to 4-under for the round. He added a birdie at the 15th before paring out. 

"I hit it decently well," Pipik said. "I was just really feeling the greens really well. I hit most of my putts with just the perfect speed. I gave pretty much every putt a chance to go in. I hit a few hard through the break, but I made the needed par saves."

Knowing he had just put together the best round of his career, Pipik walked off the 18th green knowing there was a good chance he was about to become a state champion. But it wasn't until he returned to the clubhouse and saw Gillies wasn't going to make an improbable run that the celebration really began. 

"I knew I had played a round for the ages," Pipik said. "I was ecstatic. I knew if someone played about as well as me that they could catch me, but the way I played I thought it was almost locked up after I came in. 

"Ben Gilles had to go 4-under par over his last seven holes. After I saw him make a few pars, it started to set in and become surreal." 

Less than 24 hours after winning the state title, Pipik returned to New Berlin West for his final day of high school. While he was focused on taking exams, his teachers and friends were busy congratulating him and sharing how they followed his final round online during the school day. 

He is the first player from New Berlin West to win an individual golf title. The Vikings finished as the WIAA Division 2 state runner-up in 1996 and 2005.

Now Pipik hopes to use the momentum he generated by winning the state title as he transitions to play collegiately at Division II Lewis University in Illinois. 

"Coming in with a 67 just shows me that if I go out and play my game, I'm capable of not making mistakes in a round and can compete with anybody," Pipik said.

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