Wichita Reluctant to burden his young golfer with unrealistic expectations, Lawrence High golf coach Mike Lewis didn't dare tell sophomore Sydney Wilson he thought she had a legitimate shot at a top-five finish at state.
As it turns out, Lewis was aiming low.
Wilson shot a 78 at windy and warm Auburn Hills Golf Course Monday to take second at the Class 6-5A state meet.
"Realistically, I thought she was in the top five in the state, but that was my expectation for her," Lewis said. "Maybe it was too high, but I didn't make it known to her.
"We basically went in there and thought she would play as hard as she could. She gives 100 percent to whatever she does, and if things went her way on the golf course, I thought she'd be in the top five very easily. She's a solid golfer, and she hits the ball straight."
Wilson, who finished two strokes behind state champion Tara Goedeken of Dodge City, had a solid round with a birdie, five bogeys, a double-bogey and 12 pars.
She tied Overland Park Aquinas' Annie Giangrosso for second, but Wilson took runner-up on the second sudden-death playoff hole.
Both golfers parred the first playoff hole -- No. 10 -- but Wilson birdied the second -- No. 18 -- while Giangrosso recorded a double-bogey.
"They were both par-5s," Lewis said, "and Annie is a long-ball hitter, so it was definitely to Annie's advantage, but Sydney played her game."
Wilson's approach to the playoff was much like her approach to state.
"I just thought I'd go out there and do the best I can," she said.
That's how Wilson approached her second state appearance. As a freshman, Wilson placed 21st overall, missing all-state honors by a placing.
"I didn't have any expectations on myself today," she said. "I knew the field was so strong. I just wanted to play as well as I could and see what happens. I thought the field was up for grabs. There wasn't any one player who had dominated."
Player and coach agreed Wilson's short game was the key to her runner-up finish.
"I wasn't driving the ball well," Wilson said, "but my chipping and putting was probably the best it's been all year."
"Her short game was so good," chimed in Lewis. "She was making all these four- and five-foot putts. And it was a tough day. The course played long and slow, and it was so hot it felt like summertime. An 18-hole round took, like, six hours, and it wears on you, but Sydney's so tough mentally."
She might have to toughen up even more next season, Lewis reasons, since the bulk of the top-10 finishers will graduate, while Wilson will return for two more seasons.
"She'll definitely be at the top of the league and state next year," Lewis said. "A lot of those big-name girls are seniors. To have this much success as a sophomore ... it's one of those situations where she has no place to go but down. She's looking to be first. The pressure will be there for Sydney for the next couple of years, but we take it one tournament at a time and see how it goes. Expectations will be high, but she's so tough, so competitive, she does her best in those situations."
Wilson, for her part, doesn't seem to mind.
"I have to admit," she said, "that I have thought about it already, but it gets me more excited about next year."