Jake White knew it would be close, but even he was surprised at just how tight Monday’s Class 3A Pekin Sectional turned out.

“It was down to the wire when the last guys from Providence were coming in,” said White, a junior at Lincoln-Way East. “It was really nerve-racking.”

His apprehension turned to elation once the scores were read.

Led by White’s 3-over-par 75, Lincoln-Way East finished third with a 316, topping Providence (318) and Lockport (320) at Lick Creek in Pekin for the last state-qualifying spot.

East will be joined at state by Quincy (307) and Normal (314) on Friday and Saturday at The Den at Fox Creek in Bloomington.

“I got off to a really good start, six consecutive pars, and then I birdied the seventh and was 1-under through nine,” White said. “It’s just an awesome feeling. Myself and everyone on the team has put in so much work. It’s a great reward.”

Matt Contey fired a 78, Tyler Kelly had an 81 and Dan Olivieri added an 82 for the Griffins.

“It’s the best,” Contey said. “I’ve been on varsity all four years and I’ve never been to state. As a senior, I couldn’t ask for better.”

Contey, the team captain, said he struggled on the front nine but fired three birdies for a 2-under on the back.

Providence freshman Ricky Costello earned medalist honors with a 73. Celtics coach John Platt said Costello sank a four-foot eagle putt on No. 18 to pass Lockport’s Gehrig Hollatz (74) and Joliet co-op’s Trent Wallace (74) for the win.

“Even if he’s not shooting that great, he has a way,” Platt said of Costello. “His short game pulls him through. He’s just a grinder and he doesn’t give up. For a freshman, his game is so advanced.”

Hollatz notched his first trip to state, while Wallace goes for the third time. Wallace finished 20th in 2012.

Lincoln-Way Central’s Tony Kestel (77), Providence’s Dom Cascino (78) and Plainfield South’s Isaiah Pina (79) also qualified.

For Cascino, the Celtics’ No. 5 player, it was a near miss before rallying with a pair of clutch putts.

“Dom birdied the 17th and 18th, and those two birdies end up sending him to state,” Platt said.