Experience does pay.
Derek Parola of Mundelein competed in a playoff earlier this year, and that effort helped prepare him him for a four-way playoff that lasted three holes as the top players battled it out for medalist honors Tuesday.
Mundelein captured its first boys golf regional in school history as the Mustangs won the Class 3A Zion-Benton meet at Shepard's Crook in Zion.
Mundelein took the top spot with 318, Lake Forest was 2 shots back 320 and Carmel also advanced to the sectional round with a 327. All three teams compete in Monday's Huntley sectional, which will be held at Blackstone Golf Club in Marengo.
Parola got past Carmel's Jackson Wietecha on the third playoff hole with a par. Wietecha bogeyed the hole. Parola made the green in 2 shots on the par-4, 346-yard third hole. He sent a 12-foot putt off the edge of the cup, just missing birdie.
"I thought I got pretty lucky with the shot (to the green), it hit off the hill on the side and it bounced toward the hole," Parola said. "I lipped out the putt and got lucky to make par.
"Second time in a playoff. The first time didn't go so hot."
Wietecha's missed the edge of the green on his second shot. But on his third shot, using a putter, he rolled it passed the cup by 6 feet and couldn't make the putt back for par.
"I just wanted to give myself a chance," Wietecha said. "I knew that the third shot was going to be really fast. I wanted to get it on the green with a good roll. I just didn't make the putt coming back. I just left myself in a tough position. I just gave myself a chance, and that's all you can ask for."
Parola and Wietecha along with Mundelein's John Lentz and Lake Forest's Drew Barrett each finished the par-71, 6,790-yard course with 78s. Parola got the top honors, while the other three earned second-place medals. Matt Montagne of Lake Forest and Mundelein's Tyler White each shot 79 for fifth place medals.
For Mundelein, Parola (78), Lentz (78), White (79) and Bret Cigelnik (83) are responsible for Mundelein's first regional hardware.
"There's no regional golf trophies in the trophy case," Mundelein coach Todd Parola said. "It's kind of neat. I thought we had a chance, and I was hoping that we would play well. Fortunately, we played well enough -- not great. We did have three pretty good scores.
"We've been in regionals with Lake Forest, and who knows how many they've won. It's nice for them to let us have it for one year."
Lake Forest's leaders were Barrett (78), Montagne (79), Joey Loughlin (81) and Graham Ganshirt (82).
Carmel's 327 put it 4 shots better than fourth-place Libertyville. The Corsairs' scores came from Wietecha (78), Jared Moore (81), Chris Amato (84) and Carter Wietecha (84).
"It was a senior-led team," said Carmel coach Jay Hoffman. "Our juniors did a good job too. Jim Nolan left a good program, and I just took it over for a year for him. This was a good golf course with good teams -- and teams that we've seen before, with good quality."
TJ Collins of Warren missed reaching the sectional by 1 shot last year, but made it this time with an 81 in his senior year. Other individuals moving on from Warren are Jack Hansen (82), Mike Balla and Shane Roberts (both with 87s).
Libertyville had five players advance: Billy Knutson (82), Tad Carlson (82), Matt Reed (84), Jacob Mueller (86) and Jeremy Schwab (85).
"I know how important that one shot can be," Collins said. "It was disappointing not to go with three or four other teammates last year. I just want to do the best I can and hope for another good score."