By Doug Brenneman, JOURNAL Sports Editor
The rain came and went. The sun came and went. The wind came and went.
Through it all, the Washington High School girls golf team stayed steady Monday at Emeis Golf Course in Davenport and earned a Class 3A regional title to advance to the state tournament in Ames next Tuesday and Wednesday.
?Our motto is mind over matter,? Washington coach Len Kull said. ?If you don?t mind, it doesn?t matter. I am really proud of how the girls handled things out there.?
?Getting wet didn?t really bother me after a while,? said Washington senior Megan Strabala. ?At first, the rain kind of got to me and I was like, ?really, this is how it?s going to be?? But as I went on and played a few holes, I started to get used to it.?
The Demons came in with scores that were higher than the coach was used to but were the class of the field. Sarah Nacos was first with a 77. Anna Nacos was second with an 80. Kiki Guo was fifth with an 88. Strabala was eighth with a 96. Josie Tanner shot 97 to tie for ninth and Allison Vogel had a 99 for 11th.
?You have to change with the elements, but it was not fun,? Sarah Nacos said. ?I am confident in my teammates.?
The rain made things difficult, especially hitting out of the rough. It also affected the greens.
?The worst part of the rain wasn?t getting wet,? Strabala said. ?It was the greens. Thank goodness, I was hitting my driver really straight. That?s really important on this course because if you hit in the rough, it?s hard to get out. It was so wet and thick.?
Guo also said the greens were a problem and not just the pace of the ball.
?The speed of the greens was tricky to read because sometimes the ball would hold and sometimes it would run way past the hole. I three-putted about four times,? Guo said. ?My chipping was just awful. The rain definitely made a difference. I would see a break, but it wouldn?t. I wouldn?t see a break and it would. That was just my whole day.?
Guo posted a score of 44 on each of her nine holes.
?I should have taken more time with my putting and my chipping,? she said. ?My short game was just not good. I did do good on the par 3s. I hope to do better at state.?
Often professionals can shoot a course record, but that isn?t what they talk about when done. They remember the bad parts of the round.
Washington?s Sarah Nacos was the meet medalist and Anna Nacos was the meet runner-up, but both said they left a lot of shots on the course, which was a par 74. The front nine was a par 38 with four par 5s, three par 4s and two par 3s.
?I think I played better than what my score actually was,? Anna Nacos said. ?My driver was not working for me at all so I just used hybrids to tee off and that helped me maintain a decent score.?
?My driver wasn?t good and my putting wasn?t good, but my irons were,? Sarah Nacos said. ?My pitching wedge, eight and nine irons were working well for me.?
Trouble off the tee was a problem for another Demon.
?I put away my driver after the first nine because it was bad,? Tanner said. ?The rain didn?t bother me, just the driver. I hit all my other clubs off the tee really well.?
She refused to use the driver at all over her last 11 holes.
?Mr. Kull thought I was crazy,? Tanner said.
?It just showed me she is a thinker and I appreciate the way she goes about things,? Kull said. ?She is a hard worker.?
The rain was a constant for the first half of the round and that affected scores as many players shot better on their second nines as the rain stopped and the sun came out eventually.
Sarah Nacos had four bogeys and five pars on her first nine holes, then eight pars and a birdie on her second nine.
?I?m upset with my score because I hit the ball well, but my putting didn?t click,? Sarah Nacos said.
Anna Nacos had two birdies in her round but carded a 7 on three holes. She was most proud of an iron shot she hit on a par-5 from 140 yards out that wound up close to the hole.
Strabala didn?t make any long putts, ?but I had a couple with difficult angles that I made. I was happy with that.?
?I give the girls a lot of credit for persevering,? Kull said.
The meet started at 9 a.m. and it was after 4 p.m. by the time all the scores were added up and a winner declared.
?There is only about 15 minutes when you are actually doing something and the other 5 hours and 45 minutes you are thinking and that can drive you nuts,? Kull said.
Washington?s margin of victory in most every meet this year has driven other teams nuts.
The Demons have played at the Coldwater Links Golf Course in Ames for state two years ago.
?When it?s over you feel real good but during play you don?t,? Kull said. ?This is a great accomplishment. This is something we have been shooting for. I really like this team because they don?t worry about individual stuff. It?s all about the team. They deserve everything they have gotten.?
There will be nine other teams to worry about at state as well as some quality individual play as Sarah Nacos goes for her fourth straight state title.
?Now we have one more fish to fry,? Kull said. ?There are going to be some real good teams there. I think what we went through today will help us up there.?
TEAM SCORES ? 1. Washington 341, 2. Maquoketa 396, 3. Central DeWitt 412, 4. Davenport Assumption 417, 5. Center Point Urbana 422, 6. West Liberty 424, 7. Mount Pleasant 426, 8. Solon 437, 9. Fairfield 465, 10. Marion 486. Keokuk and Burlington Notre Dame did not have a team score.