Rock Island's Laurel Enstrom didn't care one bit that her golf day ended with a playoff loss.
Moline's Emily Thomas was just glad her day was over and relieved that it ended the way it did.
As it turned out, both seniors qualified for this weekend's Class AA state golf meet, but took opposite approaches to get to Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth. Enstrom tied for medalist honors with a 10-over par 82 in the Class AA Normal U-High Sectional at the Weibring Golf Club. Thomas had to sweat out a wait of the final two groups to find out she had earned the 10th and final individual qualifying spot with her 90.
Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (348), Normal U-High (356) and Edwardsville (366) claimed the three team advancing spots to the state finals. Moline (401) was ninth.
Individually, Enstrom tied Belleville East's Miranda Lidisky for medalist honors, but they had to play it off for the top spot. And for the second time in as many postseason playoffs, Enstrom lost on the first extra hole -- a repeat of her loss to Thomas for Western Big 6 Conference bragging rights two weeks ago.
But that didn't matter. Just four years after taking up the game, she had earned her first trip to the state finals.
"Starting golf my freshman year, this is so surreal to me,'' said Enstrom. "I worked so hard to get here.
I'm so ecstatic. Last year I wasn't able to go to state, but this year I met my goal and am going.''
Enstrom admitted that her game was "shaky'' at times on a windy, chilly day that was delayed by about an hour because of frost. She carded 10 pars and had six bogeys, but limited the big numbers with two double-bogeys. She credited her short game for that.
"Chips saved me and I had some good putts," she said. "My drives were OK, but not the best ever, and my second shots were sometimes good. ... I always have a good short game.''
Another critical aspect for her success, she said, was keeping focused and composed.
"I just had to focus on every shot; it was just a one-shot-at-a-time day today,'' she said.
For Moline's Thomas, it became a one-breath-at-a-time day down the stretch. After carding a 46 on the front 9, Thomas rallied on the back, and was 2-over through five holes on the inward nine. Then came a string of three straight double bogeys.
"She had three doubles in a row which hurt, but when she parred the last hole, we thought she was still in the running,'' said Moline coach Donna Lawrence.
That's when the day started getting real long, said Thomas. There were two groups of individuals still behind her on the course and the consensus was that 90 would be right on the cut line. As it turned out, Thomas was the only 90 in the field as she finished 17th overall and grabbed the last individual advancing spot.
"I've never had anything like that before,'' said Thomas of having to wait out the last few scores being posted before realizing her fate. "The suspense was not fun to deal with.''
But ultimately a day she described as a "roller-coaster ride'' was worth it, she said, with her second straight state trip.
"I was definitely relieved knowing that I had made it my senior year,'' said Thomas.
Class A girls
Two sectionals held local interest in Class A play and there was good new to report locally out of both of those events.
At the Genoa Sectional at The Oak Club, Prophetstown made school history by qualifying the first golf team -- boys or girls -- for a state finals gathering. The Prophets finished third, advancing to this weekend's state meet at Decatur's Red Tail Run. Also surviving at the Oak Club was Geneseo freshman Monica Lieving, who shot a 47-48--95 and made it out by a stroke as one of the 10 individuals to advance.
The Prophets were paced by their senior quartet of Annie Sandrock (98), Stephanie Emery (100), Molly Corbin (101) and Ella Kramer (113).
"I'm still kind of in awe,'' said Prophetstown coach Kelly Siltman. "I'm not shocked, though, because these girls worked hard to get here.''
Prophetstown's 412 score placed third behind Rockford Lutheran (384) and Somonauk (399).
At the Lincoln Sectional at the Elks Club course, United junior Justine Peel was the lone local survivor to advance to Decatur, and she did that by carding an 84 and tying for seventh overall. In the team race at Lincoln, Mercer County (404) finished sixth and Rockridge (446) was 12th.
Today is Tuesday, Oct. 21, the 294th day of 2014. There are 71 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The weather is discouraging for our great Democratic rally tomorrow, but never mind that. Let our Rock Island people show they can make a big procession themselves, rain or shine. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Apparatus arrived for drilling an artesian well on the premises of George Warner's Atlantic Brewery. 1914 -- 100 years ago: The German army continued its attacks on the allies line near the Belgian coast. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The farm home of Mr. and Mrs. Gus Zachert northwest of Buffalo Prairie, burned to the ground. 1964 -- 50 years ago: WVIK-FM, noncommercial educational radio station at Augustana College, will return to the air tomorrow. The station operates at a power of 10 watts at 90.9 megacycles on the frequency modulation band. The station is operated with a staff of 92 students. 1989 -- 25 years ago: An avenue of lights, 13 Christmas trees strung with more than 44,000 sparkling lights, will expand the Festival of Trees beyond the walls of RiverCenter in downtown Davenport in mid-November.