NORFOLK, Neb. — Grand Island found itself in an unusual position after the first nine holes of the Class A girls golf state tournament Tuesday at Norfolk Country Club.
The Islanders were in second place. It was a rather unfamiliar spot for a team loaded with five seniors — seven if you count the two alternates — that had won every invitational title this season.
The Islanders just kept grinding away in the 75-degree weather. OK, it was far from that warm, but that's what coach Kelli Jeffries was trying to sell to her players.
“She told us, 'We don't think it's cold. It's sunny and 75,' ” senior Abbie Otto said. “That's what we thought, and we went out and did it.”
The Islanders put together a strong back nine to win their second Class A title in three years with a 360. Lincoln Southwest finished second at 371 and Millard North third at 384.
Bellevue East's Miranda Keeler shot 80 to win the individual title, five strokes ahead of Omaha Burke freshman Nia Station at 85.
Keeler persevered through the poor weather to become the first champion from Bellevue East in girls golf. The senior finished seventh at state a year ago with a 174 total, so an 80 was a big jump for her.
“The front nine was really difficult trying to adjust to the weather out here,” Keeler said. “The back nine, I really put it in gear because I understood the wind and whatnot, so I was able to really grind my game.
“I do like the back nine better than the front nine. It's a little bit longer, so it's more suited to my game.”
Keeler had 10 pars and eight bogeys. Station had one of only 15 birdies — there also was an ace Tuesday — but the Metro Conference champion also made four double bogeys.
Millard North led the team race after nine holes at 183. Grand Island was second at 186 and Southwest third at 190.
“I didn't even know,” the Islanders' Otto said. “Once I got done, I was told we were behind by three. The back nine is easier than the front nine. They started on the back, so we figured we could do better.”
They did. Otto shot a 45 on the front and a 42 on the back to finish fifth at 87. Sydni Harris, Tori Peers and Leigh Uhing each shot 91 to tie for ninth.
Uhing came back with a 42 on the back nine after shooting 49 on the front.
“She had some struggles,” Jeffries said. “She took three 8s on the front, but this course will do that to you. But I thought on the back nine she started out on 10 and hit the ball really well and then played a lot better on the back.”
The tournament was shortened to 18 holes when Monday's play was canceled because of heavy rain and winds. That left the Islanders with a lot of free time to think about things.
“Normally over two days those better teams will continue to shoot well,” Jeffries said. “You might have a team shoot well for one 18-hole round, but to put two days together isn't going to happen very often.
“Honestly, we couldn't play yesterday. I understand why they did it. I would have liked to have played two days. I would have felt better about that, maybe get rid some of the jitters on the first nine yesterday and then have three nines to go.”
Omaha Marian sophomore Mackenzie Fuss had the shot of the day. She aced the 160-yard 14th hole while shooting 90 to finish eighth.
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Class A results
At Norfolk CC
Team standings: Grand Island 360, Lincoln Southwest 371, Millard North 384, Papillion-La Vista 387, Bellevue East 393, Fremont 393, Lincoln Pius X 397, Lincoln East 407, Millard West 414, Lincoln Southeast 420, Columbus 425, Bellevue West 435.
Miranda Keeler, Bellevue East, 80
Nia Station, Omaha Burke, 85
Elizabeth O'Doherty, Lincoln East, 86
Maddie Koenig, Lincoln Pius X, 86
Abbie Otto, Grand Island, 87
Ellie Walstad, Lincoln Southeast, 89
Emma Jacoby, Lincoln North Star, 89
Makenzie Fuss, Omaha Marian, 90
Alexa Kasl, Lincoln Southwest, 91
Sydni Harris, Grand Island, 91
Katelyn Strudthoff, Millard West, 91
Tori Peers, Grand Island, 91
Leigh Uhing, Grand Island, 91
Kendall Niehaus, Fremont, 91
Katherine Kares, Millard North, 92
Megan Mueting, Lincoln Southwest, 92
Ellie Wiltfong, Lincoln Southwest, 92
Jordyn Wendlandt, Millard South, 92
Katie Irvin, Papillion-La Vista, 92
Tiffanie Joyce Yabut, Omaha Burke, 93
Natalie Wilson, Papillion-La Vista, 94
Jewel Rodgers, Omaha North, 95
Samantha Beal, Columbus, 95
Anna Wilson, Fremont, 96
Nathalie Sanchez, Bellevue West, 96
Lidia Jons, Lincoln Southwest, 96
Morgan Wiemers, Millard North, 96
Ashley Willms, Millard North, 96
Emily Jezewski, Omaha Central, 98
Spencer Roach, Papillion-La Vista, 98
Samantha Bruening, Norfolk, 99
Taylor Carnazzo, Millard West, 99
Charleen Marsh, Bellevue East, 99
Nicole Pauley, Columbus, 99
Cathleen Marsh, Bellevue East, 100
Ally Lemkau, Millard North, 100
Meghan Luper, Fremont, 101
Abigail Hermanek, Omaha Marian, 102
Allison Vondra, Papillion-La Vista, 103
Mackenzie Glenn, Lincoln East, 103
Maddie Simon, Lincoln Pius X, 103
Audrey Kuehn, Lincoln Pius X, 104
Chelsea Wilkinson, Lincoln Pius X, 104
Brooke Romjue, Lincoln Southeast, 105
Sarah Young, Fremont, 105
Heather Furnas, Lincoln East, 106
Amanda Willms, Millard North, 106
Madeline Whitehead, Lincoln Southeast, 107
Sally Barie, Lincoln Pius X, 107
Abby Bills, Grand Island, 107
Haley Jones, Bellevue West, 108
Elle Thompson, Papillion-La Vista, 108
Kaylee Jobeun, Millard West, 110
Shelby Glenn, Lincoln East, 112
Kimberly Gau, Bellevue West, 113
Skylar Bedore, Bellevue East, 114
Madison Ulness, Millard West, 114
Emily Shevlin, Columbus, 115
Alyssa Theilen, Columbus, 116
Caroline Startzer, Lincoln East, 117
Erin Mather, Bellevue East, 117
Mallory Huck, Bellevue West, 118
Caitlyn Wisecup, Millard West, 118
Aidan Graybill, Lincoln Southeast, 119
Amanda Mundt, Lincoln Southeast, 120
Makaila Robertson, Columbus, 126
Hannah Cobb, Fremont, 126
Brooke Fraser, Lincoln Southwest, 128
Marissa Beaulieu, Bellevue West, 131