Archive for Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wilson’s state dreams derailed

LHS senior shoots 16-over-par 87, places 14th; Lions’ Shmalberg rallies for 106

October 18, 2005

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— Give Sydney Wilson credit for her candor.

The Lawrence High senior decided long before she stepped on the course Monday for the Class 6-5A Girls State Golf Tournament that there only was one acceptable outcome.

"I came out here to win," Wilson said.

So, when things started to unravel on the 13th hole at Salina Country Club and it became clear she wouldn't achieve her destiny, the normally steely nerved Wilson, by her own admission, "kind of lost it for a little while."

By the time she rediscovered the form that has made her one of the top girls golfers in the state the last four seasons, the damage was done.

She didn't win, and she didn't partake in any of the four playoffs needed to sort out the final 10 players on the individual leaderboard.

Instead, Wilson signed for a 16-over 87, still good for the 14th-place medal, but a far cry from the expectations for someone who finished second and third the last two times she performed on this stage.

"Overall, it was a pretty good high school career," said Wilson, standing in the shadows of the clubhouse while a dozen golfers headed back onto the course to determine the final pecking order. "A state title would have made it quite a bit better.

"But it was pretty good, I guess. I don't feel like I finished as strong as I should have."

Such words were a stark contrast to the day's opening, when Wilson's three playing partners scattered their shots from the No. 1 tee to the rough - and, in one case, the street - while she drilled a perfect drive in the middle of the fairway on the lengthy par 5.

However, in a sign of things to come, Wilson missed her short par putt - one of four putts inside of five feet she missed on the front nine. The result was a pedestrian 41 at the turn that didn't leave Wilson in the lead, but likewise didn't leave her far from it.

After a par to open the back nine, Wilson failed to capitalize on back-to-back par 5s, taking bogeys on both holes.

Then came unlucky No. 13, an uphill par 3 playing 157 yards.

With the other three players either safely on the green or nearby, Wilson proceeded to blast a 7-iron into the trees beyond the hole. Facing an unplayable lie, she returned to the tee and hit virtually the exact same shot.

By the time she finally worked the ball back onto the right side of the tree line, pitched to the green and rolled two putts, the damage was a quintuple-bogey 8.

"My dad thought it was the wrong club. I thought it was a bad swing," Wilson said of the reason behind her round-altering hole. "So maybe it was a combination of both."

Whatever it was, it stuck with her for too long. Wilson went double bogey, bogey, bogey on the next three holes before regrouping to play arguably her best two of the day, closing out her round with pars on both No. 17 and No. 18.

"She had a tough day, and she didn't get any breaks," LHS coach Mike Lewis said. "The ball just didn't bounce her way on the final round of her high school career."

Making matters worse for Wilson was watching three players - Salina South's Cherise Erickson and the Washburn Rural duo of Adin Stromgren and Abby Weddle - go to a playoff to determine the individual champ after tying atop the leaderboard at 8-over 79.

"I felt like I easily could have shot that," Wilson said.

Instead, Erickson won the playoff and the gold medal, while Washburn Rural claimed the team title with 345 strokes, edging runner-up Manhattan by two shots.

In addition to Wilson, LHS was represented by senior Jamie Shmalberg, who rebounded from a tough front nine to finish at 106.

"Being able to come back and bounce back and shoot a 49 on her back nine speaks for Jamie and her willingness to go out and compete and finish her senior year on the right foot," Lewis said. "A lot of golfers would have probably packed it in. But Jamie toughed it out."

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