COLUMBUS — They had a hunch, but they didn't know for sure.
After a Monday washout, an 18-hole cold and windy round Tuesday, and then a three-team one-hole playoff, the Minden girls' golf team wasn't certain which team had won.
The individual medalists were announced first. Then came the team results.
“In second place...”
When the Whippet golfers didn't hear their name mentioned, then they knew.
They were state champions.
Minden won the Class C state golf title with a one-stroke advantage in a sudden-death playoff against Grand Island Central Catholic and Columbus Scotus on Tuesday at Quail Run Golf Course in Columbus.
“It's just that feeling of pure accomplishment when they announced GICC and Scotus,” sophomore Paige Kristensen said. “It was that moment where it was, 'Did they really just say that?'”
They had, indeed, and Kristensen played a significant role in getting the team over the edge.
After the three teams each carded a 406 team score in the condensed 18-hole tournament (Monday's round rained out), the teams' five golfers were matched in groups of three and sent to five holes on the course for a sudden-death playoff.
Kristensen played the 302-yard par-4 first hole with the other teams' No. 1 golfers. She hit a clean drive, and then her approach shot with a 7-iron rolled to the top of a hill just off the green. She chose to putt from there and put the shot within 10 inches of the hole. The other golfers missed long putts, Kristensen tapped in for par, and Minden had the early playoff advantage.
“I was pacing a lot on the first tee,” Kristensen said of the playoff pressure nerves. “The girls that teed off ahead of me had great drives which piled on the pressure. I told myself I had to get myself calmed down.”
Minden was led by Kristensen, and juniors Ashton Boldt and Jessica Rehtus. Each posted an 18-hole score of 96 to earn individual medals, and Minden was the only team with three golfers under 100 on a cold, windy day.
The playoff, though, tested the nerves of the golfers.
“I just had to focus on playing easy and playing the ball and keeping ball,” Boldt said.
Added Rehtus: “It took a lot just to calm myself down and trying to realize that I've prepared. I just had to believe in myself.”
Boldt bogeyed her playoff hole, matching GICC's Sarah Vaughn and topping Scotus' Elizabeth Priester by one stroke. Scotus gained one stroke with the No. 3 golfers, as Emily Allen parred, while Minden's Rehtus and GICC's Amanda Fay each bogeyed.
But by then, Minden coach Steve Exstrom knew his team had a lead. The Whippets finished out the playoff with a one-stroke edge over Scotus and three-stroke lead over GICC.
“There was no way of knowing for sure,” Exstrom said. “You just had to do your part and let the chips fall as they may.”
Rehtus said all she knew was that didn't have to play another hole, and Boldt said their group's scorekeeper indicated to them that Minden had probably won.
Still, it wasn't fully known until the announcement.
Exstrom said part of the team's success was Kristensen's, Boldt's and Rehtus's previous state meet experience at Quail Run.
“Our first three girls have been here before,” Exstrom said. “Quail Run is becoming a lot more familiar golf course, and that paid off big dividends. Those three are the foundation of the team. We were fortunate enough to get enough in the playoff, and the rest was history.”
Wood River's Nikki Thienel, the only other Hub territory golfer at the Class C event, shot a 102 to finish tied for 23rd.
For Minden, the team solidifies its season in the school's storied golf tradition. It's the Whippets tenth state title but first since 2006.
“To just know that 2013 will be a big year for Minden golf and remembered, and that I'll be a part of it and our team be a part of it,” Kristensen said, “It's a dream come true. It's amazing.”
Holdrege takes 7th in Class B
Holdrege finished seventh in the Class B Tournament at Holmes Park Golf Course in Lincoln.
Brenna Gnuse led the team with a two-day score of 189, and she finished tied for 17th in the individual standings.
Broken Bow's Kaleigh Page shot a 211 to finish 39th.
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CLASS B STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Holmes Park Golf Course, Lincoln
Scottsbluff 705, Elkhorn South 715, Beatrice 717, McCook 762, Sidney 766, Gretna 782, Holdrege 827, Omaha Skutt Catholic 834, Omaha Duchesne Academy 836, Blair 868, Adams Central 877, Aurora 888.
CLASS C STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Quail Run Golf Course, Columbus
Minden 406 (won playoff), Columbus Scotus 406, Grand Island Central Catholic 406, O'Neill 417, Lincoln Lutheran 418, Gothenburg 428, Wayne 430, Boone Central 433, Pierce 439, Omaha Brownell-Talbot 444, Bridgeport 446, Kimball 446, West Point-Beemer 448, Chadron 457, Fairbury 495.
1, Hannah Brown, Auburn, 80. 2, Brandi Lemek, Doniphan-Trumbull, 90. T3, Emily Snyder, Mitchell, 91. T3, Amy Price, CS, 91. T5, Neha Sood, GICC, 93. T5, Lacie Fox, WPB, 93. T5, Kelsey Bignell, Columbus Lakeview, 93. T8, Klaire Nuttelman, LL, 94. T8, Sarah Vaughn, GICC, 94. 10, Paige Mestl, Heartland, 95. T11, Ashlen Pospisil, Norfolk Catholic, 96. T11, Paige Kristensen, MIN, 96. T11, Ashton Boldt, MIN, 96. T11, Jessica Rehtus, MIN, 96. 15, Mikayla Bankson, Central City, 97.