SIOUX CITY — Before she stepped up for her final putt in the MRAC girls golf championship on Tuesday, Bishop Heelan High School freshman Anna Fenton admitted she was nervous.
It was understandable. If she sunk the six-foot putt, she was the winner. If not, play would continue on.
Fenton’s putt ended a one-hole, three-person playoff to clinch the conference medalist title at Whispering Creek Golf Course. The playoff hole was between Fenton, Kirstin Sykes of East and Black Raiders junior Amanda Debates.
“I just let everything go and thought about that one putt,” Fenton said.
The Crusaders freshman ended with a five on the playoff hole, Sykes had a six and Debates a seven. All three ladies ended with 18-hole scores of 92 to force the playoff.
So, what was going through Fenton’s mind as she played the extra hole?
“(I wanted to) play the best I’ve ever played,” Fenton said. “I had a lot going on. I knew I didn’t want to play another hole. I wanted to finish it right then and there, and I did it.”
She said it was indeed the best 18-hole round she had played.
After Fenton won and shook the hands of her competitors, she ran off the No. 10 green and gave coach Andy Foster a high-five and a hug. She was surprised that she’s a conference champion as a freshman.
“It means a lot,” Fenton said. “I’m going to take this on for the next few years and keep going. Now I know I’m going to a few more meets and do my best again.”
Before Sykes started the playoff hole, she shook her head and said how crazy it was she was in a playoff.
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She shot a 43 on the back nine and learned that Debates also scored a 43 on her last nine holes. They both realized they were headed for a playoff, and immediately took a stroll to the putting green to get ready for the playoff.
But, the craziness gets deeper.
The East senior won last year’s conference championship at Floyd Park Golf Course — and needed a playoff to do so.
“I thought it was ironic I had to do it two years in a row,” Sykes said of the playoff. “What are the odds that we had to play off? It almost never happens.”
Sykes, who will compete in the high jump at the Class 4A state track meet later this week, admitted that it was more challenging to play an 18-hole round at Whispering Creek than at Floyd Park, but liked how she drove the ball all day.
That carried over into the playoff hole. She found the fairway on No. 10 and was on the green in three shots.
Later, Sykes’ second putt rested at the lip of the hole, and if it had gone in, she would’ve ended up forcing a second playoff hole with Fenton at No. 11.
“My heart just dropped,” Sykes said. “I was so disappointed, but Anna played well. She really deserved it.”
North’s Avery Beller (95) and Madyson Fritcher of Council Bluffs Lincoln (103) rounded out the conference individual top-5 standings.
The Black Raiders won the team competition with a score of 406, which was 30 strokes better than the Crusaders. North was third at 442.