High Desert League rivals Spanish Springs and McQueen were once again in competition at the top of a tournament. This time it was the Nevada State Championships event. In the end, it was Spanish Springs topping its league rival and staking claim to the first girls golf state title in the 12th-year school's history.
It was just the second girls large-school state golf crown won by a northern Nevada school since 1991 when Reed was the Silver State's best. The other North state titlist was Bishop Manogue in 2008.
"The girls absolutely got better this season," first-year Spanish Springs coach Mike Bosco said. "We peaked at the right time, when we needed to. The girls faced some adversity this season, including a new coach in myself coming in. But they deserve all the credit. This is sweet."
After Monday's sunny warm weather, that brought optimum playing conditions and low scores, Spanish Springs turned in a team total of 333, 14 strokes better than second-place McQueen's 347. The wind kicked up a bit during Tuesday's second round and the scores inflated with it. The Cougars' team total jumped up 20 strokes to a 353 but it was still good enough to help the SSHS squad hold on for the title.
Spanish Springs wound up with a two-day total of 686. That wound up being 10 strokes better than McQueen (347, 349 - 696) and 12 strokes better than third-place Coronado (356, 342 - 698) of Las Vegas. Coronado's 342 team total on Day 2 was the best team score in the second round, but not enough to overcome the two North powers.
Two-time North Region individual champion, sophomore Katrina Prendergast, paced the Spanish Springs scoring effort. She backed up her 76 Monday with a second 76 Tuesday, finishing with a 152, good for second place among all individuals.
"We definitely knew we had a good chance coming in," Prendergast said. "McQueen beat us in league and regionals. We wanted to win state to get back at them. There's just so much competition between us. Every putt, every shot counts. This feels pretty good."
On Tuesday, in addition to Prendergast, Spanish Springs counted the scores of Trae Jones (90), Sami Sorensen (93), and Katrina Weil (94). The Cougars threw out the 95 of Joanna Perry and the 101 of Kirsti Settas.
McQueen did make up four strokes on the Cougars on Day 2 of the event, but it was not enough to overcome the double-digit deficit it faced after the first round. The Lancers, who last week won the first girls golf regional title in the northwest Reno school's history, counted the scores of Allison Gaskill (79), Michelle Duan (84), Alison Duan (87) and Rachel Nelson (99) toward their second-round team total.
McQueen tossed out a pair of 104s, by Taylor Thomas and Geena Carucci.
After carding a 70 on the first day of action, Green Valley's Alex Kaui fired up a 68 Tuesday. Her 138 easily earned her individual medalist honors. After Prendergast in second, came Douglas' Koko Terada (154) and Basic's Jamie Danizio (75, 81 - 156) in third and fourth respectively.
Spanish Springs and McQueen split the High Desert League's six regular season tournaments, each winning three. Then, at last week's regional tourney, Spanish Springs built an 11-stroke lead after Day 1, but McQueen rallied on Day 2 to overtake its SSHS rivals and win the North championship.
That was a tough pill to swallow for the Cougars, who felt they had been chasing the MHS club all fall. Bosco said his team left the regional tournament vowing to do one thing at state this week: beat McQueen.
The Cougars did just that.
"If I could choose, obviously I'd take this state title over a league or regional crown," Bosco said. "And I'm sure the girls would, too. The course played harder today. The scores were inflated for everybody, but we did just what we had to do."
The Spanish Springs-McQueen rivalry likely isn't going anywhere. Both teams have young rosters that return the bulk of their low scorers. Lancers coach Mark Harbrecht said the rivalry is a healthy one that has forced both teams to play better golf.
"This is an old reference but this season has been like an Ali-Frazier boxing match, punch and then counter punch" Harbrecht said. "If we competed a dozen times, we'd probably both win six ... We are both as good as we are because of the competition between us. There is the potential for us to be at each other for a few years. Having a good competition like this brings out the best in you. It teaches you to deal with pressure and prepares you for a stage like this at state."