By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports
When the Washington High School van left Coldwater Links Golf Course in Ankeny Wednesday, no one called shotgun. No one fought over who got to sit in front. The front passenger seat was already reserved for a very special occupant.
The Class 3A girls golf state championship trophy was seat-belted into that front seat for the safe ride back to Washington.
The Demons outclassed the competition with outstanding rounds from all of their players on the second day of the tournament to turn a five-stroke lead after the first day into a 28-stroke runaway victory. It is the third team title in four years after last year?s team placed third.
?I have to give the girls credit because they really battled today,? Washington head coach Len Kull said. ?They battled all year.?
Washington?s three-time defending individual champion Sarah Nacos finished third as an individual in her quest to join two other girls as the only four-time champs.
?It would?ve been awesome to be one of those three and I think that made me nervous (Tuesday),? Nacos said. ?At the same time, it was nothing more than I usually am.?
?I don?t like worrying about individual scores,? Kull said. ?I don?t like worrying about how individuals are doing. It just creates extra pressure. I applaud Sarah and her season and her career. That girl has just done great her entire career. It is hard to play with the piano on your back and she has had six weeks of pressure. There has been a lot of media requests and a lot of media coverage and that creates time problems but she and the girls have just handled it great, just great.?
The Demons also did great by improving on their first-round scores.
After her first round came in at an 83, Nacos improved to a 75 Wednesday for a 158 total. Kiki Guo went from an 86 to an 83 for a 169. Megan Strabala took ?at least four less putts? to improve from 90 to 86 and carded a 176 total. Josie Tanner took 10 shots off of her opening round, dropping from 96 to 86 for a 182 and Allison Vogel improved eight strokes, going from 99 to 91.
?I think at the start (Tuesday), we were all pretty tight,? Kull said. ?That may have been some pressure that the girls felt. But they gathered themselves and had a great round today. I saw a lot of great shots.?
Only Anna Nacos didn?t better her first-round score and that may be because she had such an outstanding opener. She carded a 75 that put her in second place overnight. She came in with an 84 for a 159 total that placed her fourth overall as an individual. The freshman Nacos finished a single stroke behind her senior sister, Sarah.
?Our dad has always told us that when you two are on the team together, there should be nothing stopping you from getting a state championship,? Sarah said. ?I was so glad to see that happen. To be able to achieve something like this with my little sister by my side and the other members of the team are just like my family anyways so I think that was the driving force for me and why I wanted to win as a team so badly. Getting to be state champions, the feeling is indescribable.?
?I think the most special thing was not just winning, it is the fact that it is our last meet,? Strabala said of herself and fellow seniors Nacos and Vogel. ?One last hurrah with the team and then going out on top makes it really special.?
?It is such a great feeling,? Vogel said. ?It is really something. I can?t really describe it. Last year was not a disappointment to finish third. Things still went well for us. Of course they went even better this year.?
Things didn?t go well for the elder Nacos on Day 1, but the younger sibling just offered support. Even though Anna had an eight-stroke lead on her sister after the first round, there was no bragging about it afterward.
?I tried to forget (Tuesday),? Anna said. ?It?s a brandnew day. The focus was on finishing it out. I was just glad to see her go down as many strokes that she did. That was great for the team?s sake. We wanted the state title as a team and we got that.?
Anna couldn?t find the groove she had on the first day while Sarah located the swing she lost.
?I went to the driving range with my dad for more than an hour,? Sarah said. ?We had to fix all what was wrong with my driver. If I wanted the team to win, I knew I couldn?t have another round like that again.?
?Once I started hitting my shots I got really comfortable (Tuesday) and that helped me be confident in my shots,? Anna said. ?I stuck to the hybrid (Tuesday) but my hybrid failed me today. My last three holes were rough because my driver was not good.?
?I think what we witnessed here at the tournament was the passing of the torch,? Kull said. ?Anna played so well (Tuesday) but Sarah came back strong. As a freshman playing in the shadow of her sister, it was important for Anna to be Anna.?
Britta Snyder of Gilbert was first with 70-72?142. Anna Jensen of Dubuque Wahlert was second at 76-79?155. Guo tied for 16th.
?My irons were great today but I think I could?ve done better,? Guo said. ?I added five strokes on one hole. Every shot is going to count but you can?t remember them when you are playing. My best shot was an approach shot. I hit a 9-iron that landed a foot or two away from the hole.?
Strabala finished 24th.
?I felt I played pretty well both days,? Strabala said. ?I couldn?t have asked for much better, especially with it being at state. I did play better today because my putting was really good. That helps me out a lot. I made a couple long putts.?
Tanner was 31st overall.
?I just could not hit the green (Tuesday),? Tanner said. ?I just focused more today and I think that?s because I wasn?t as nervous. I wasn?t as tense, so things went a lot better for me.?
Vogel had the 39th best score of the 75 golfers.
?I know I didn?t shoot as well as I could?ve (Tuesday) so that motivated me to do better,? Vogel said. ?Staying in the fairway really helped me out. I just wanted to have fun because it?s the last event for me in high school. It was just a good time.?
?This was a really special season,? Kull said. ?The girls were on their game from beginning to end. The only low point was the weather at the beginning of the year and the girls played great in bad weather.?
TEAM SCORES ? 1. Washington 334-328?662, 2. Creston 346-344?690, 3. Gilbert 339-352?691, 4. Dubuque Wahlert 350-357?707, 5. Grinnell 355-354?709, 6. Centerville 383-370?753, 7. Carroll 384-369?753, 8. Clear Lake 374-387?761, 9. Maquoketa 385-382?767, 10. MOC-Floyd Valley 402-396?798.