On the threshold of a Class A state championship for the past four years, the Nashville Hornettes finally kicked the door down Saturday at Red Tail Run Golf Course in Decatur.
Senior Natalie Johnson shot a 77 and Shawn Rennegarbe added an 81 as the Hornettes captured their first Class A state golf title with a 19-stroke win over Rochester.
After placing in the top four in each of the previous three seasons, Nashville also got rounds of 87 from senior Madi May and 94 from Madison Frerker, on a chilly, windy day as it finished with a 36-hole total of 664.
Second at the state finals two years ago and third in the 2010 Class A event, the Hornettes left no doubt Saturday, increasing their six-shot lead coming out of the opening round to 13 after nine holes and then sealing the deal with some solid play on the back nine.
"It's everything I thought it would be. It's been a long time coming, but I'm just so proud of the girls. They've wanted this for so long and for it to finally happen is very special,'' Hornettes coach Doug Kell said. "The pressure is off. We got the big trophy and now we can relax and celebrate.''
One of the favorites entering the state tournament, Rennegarbe earned her fourth top-10 finish and all-state honor by placing fourth individually.
Rennegarbe's two-day total of 151 was 10 strokes behind champion Lauren Chappell, of Charleston. Chappell shot 73 in the final round.
Johnson earned the fifth-place medal with a score of 152, two strokes ahead of a third local player, Columbia senior Allie Leingang, who shot 75 to finish sixth with a 154.
While Rennegarbe might be a little disappointed with her fourth-place finish, Johnson seemed to be elated.
"She was our superstar this weekend,'' Kell said of Johnson. "It's just remarkable, when you consider that four years ago Natalie Johnson had never picked up a club before. Now she's a state medal winner, member of a state championship team and she's going to be a Division I athlete next year.''
As will Leingang, if she wishes.
A three-time champion in the rugged Cahokia Conference, Leingang posted the second-lowest score (75) of any of the top 10 finishers in the final round.
Also earning all-state honors was Althoff sophomore Gabby David, who tied for 16th at 165. She shot 83 on Saturday.
Kendra Kessler, of Sparta, tied for 29th with a 168 total. Marlee Clouatre, of Civic Memorial, was alone in 31st with a 169.
Kara Schnoeker, of Okawville, tied for 45th with a 180 total.
Class AA Girls
Edwardsville senior Emilee Flaugher capped an impressive high school career and two exceptional days by tying for fifth at the Class AA state finals at Hickory Point Golf Course in Forsyth.
Flaugher's second-round 78 left her with a 150 total, eight shots behind Jessia Yuen of (Naperville) Neuqua Valley.
Unfortunately, Flaugher's solid play couldn't prevent Edwardsville from finishing last in the 12-team state finals. The Tigers 738 total was 126 shots behind champion Mount Prospect (612).
Rounding out the top four players for Edwardsville were Ashlea Hearn (191), Eryn Coppersmith (195) and Kiley Reeder (202).
Alton junior Tori Hays shot 78 in the second round to tie for 31st (160). Highland senior Shanna Welz (180) tied for 89th.
Class 1A Boys
Nashville junior Kyler Spencer shot a 78 and senior Brandon Holzhauer added a 79 to help cap a remarkable turnaround as the Hornets rallied to place third in the Class A tournament at Prairie Vista Golf Course in Bloomington.
In 10th place entering Saturday, Nashville finished with a four-man score of 320 to vault over seven teams and earn the first state golf trophy in Nashville boys golf history.
"We were fortunate to get out on the golf course early and post a good score before the wind picked up in the afternoon,'' Nashville coach Jason Guest said. "We were able to sit in the clubhouse and wait for the other scores to come in. The later in the day it got, and with our score already posted, I think maybe a couple of teams felt the pressure a little bit.
"I'm so proud of these kids. They battled back today. To be able to see the girls win the state title and then us placing third on the same day is really something special. It shows what kind of kids we have at Nashville High School.''
Spencer (159) and Jordan Harre (162) led the way for the Hornets total of 658. Holzhauer (164) and Tyler Wall (173) rounded out Nashville's top four scores.
El Paso (647) won the title, while (Winnetka) North Shore Country Day (656) placed second.
Individually, Brandon Jansen, of Carlyle, tied for 50th at 168. Sam Range, of Gibault, tied for 55th with a 169 total.
Class 2A Boys
Triad senior Austin Buente didn't quite duplicate the feat of his older brother Blaine Buente at Weibring Golf Course this weekend. But he came close.
Austin Buente fired a second straight 75 and finished in a tie for fifth place in the Class 2A State Golf Tournament.
Blaine Buente, now a freshman at Milliken University, placed second at the Class 2A state finals a year ago.
Danny Gorman, of (Rockford) Boylan, won the title with an even-par total of 142. Michael Barker, of Columbia, tied for 26th (159). Jesse Johnson, of Highland, tied for 43rd (163). Class 3A Boys
Saving one his best high school rounds for last, Collinsville senior Keenai Sampson shot a 3-over-par 75 and finished in a tie for 19th at the Class 3A state finals at The Den at Fox Creek Golf Course in Bloomington.
Sampson finished with a 36-hole score of 153, 12 strokes more than champion Brian Ohr of (Northbrook) Glenbrook North.