Halfway through the Class 5A girls golf tournament Monday afternoon, St. Thomas Aquinas coach Ryan Best grabbed his phone and wrote up a quick message.
“Just as expected, gonna be a race to the finish!” he posted on his Twitter account. “#backnine #believe. Team scores unofficial after 9 holes.”
Aquinas had a narrow lead, and the race grew closer as Kansas’ high school golfers wound their way through Emporia Municipal Golf Course.
It came down to the final four holes.
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By the end of the day, the Saints had fended off Andover and Pittsburg to win the Class 5A championship by 13 strokes, giving Aquinas its 100th state title in the school’s 30th year.
Senior Annie Patton was the first off, shooting a 13-over 83 to give Aquinas a 10-shot lead. Later, freshman Brooke King turned in the 10th-best score (87) in the tournament. Freshman Jaclyn Koziol helped retain Aquinas’ lead with her round of 86.
Then, sophomore Maggie King stepped onto the 18th green. She had shot par on all but one of the holes on the back nine.
King made a bogey and finished with an 80 for the third-best score in the tournament. Salina Central’s Ellie Cobb shot a 71 for medalist honors. Mill Valley senior Bella Hadden was the runner-up with a score of 79.
The Aquinas girls golf team had not won a state title since winning six straight during 2007-12. Last year, Aquinas placed second in the tournament, coming in 12 strokes behind Kapaun Mt. Carmel.
The boys golf team won the Class 5A title for the second year in a row in May.
Since 1997, Best’s golf teams have won a combined 13 titles.
▪ Gardner Edgerton junior Mia Tovkach shot par-72 in the Class 6A tournament at Mariah Hills Golf Course in Dodge City, Kan. She won the individual championship for the second time in her career.
Shawnee Mission East finished second as a team to Topeka’s Washburn Rural .
Marti Fromm placed fourth with a score of 79 to lead SM East. Blue Valley West came in third, led by third-place finisher Molly Saporito’s 78.