As if the challenge of Dornick Hills wasn't enough, the weather added another hazard at the Class 5A girls state tournament.
Temperature dropped more than scores, but Deer Creek mustered up enough mettle to win the state championship by 10 strokes over reigning champion Duncan, 676-686.
Teeing off in the last group, the three top teams — Deer Creek, Duncan and Durant — were met with strong rain and wind on the back nine. In the end, it was Deer Creek, and individual champion Sydney Youngblood of Durant, who were able to outpace the field.
As for Ardmore, it was mission accomplished. The hosts went for sixth place and did just that, shooting a two-day total of 749 that put them far off the lead but within their expectations.
Ardmore was 11th as a team at state in 2012, and shot 100 strokes better this season. Liz Hargis paced the Tigers with an 88-87—175, which tied her for 12th overall.
"Today, I had to get my mind back from yesterday, because yesterday I didn't have a very good round," Hargis said. "I think that we did good, especially considering the conditions."
Ardmore coach Marc Peters said that his team was right where he wanted them to be. Sadie Salyer closed with a 96-94—190 and Shelby Peters was three behind at 89-104—193.
Ragen Holt and Katelyn Hartman shot identical 99-98—197.
Peters wants a top three finish at state next season. The entire starting five returns for the Tigers next season.
"It's quite an accomplishment for our team," Peters said. "We got that goal accomplished. Another good summer and I guarantee we'll be better."
Durant's young champion
Even in a crowded room, Youngblood stood alone.
After posting the only sub-par round of the entire tournament on Wednesday, the Durant freshman completed her commanding performance at the state championships with a 4-over 76 on Thursday. Youngblood topped Deer Creek's Caroline Goodin by seven shots.
The win came against wild weather, as the final group came up the 18th fairway into a downpour.
It didn't phase Youngblood, who spoke in humble tones after two days of humbling the field. She was just happy to be able to compete against the deep 5A field, filled with friends and role models.
"Alexis Sadeghy, Caroline Goodin, Emily Folsom ... there were a lot of good players out there that were tough to beat," Youngblood said. "It was really tough conditions and everyone should be proud of what they shot."
Youngblood inherits the title of 5A state champion from Megan Blonien of Altus. Blonien, now at Oklahoma State, had a stranglehold on 5A for four years, winning four consecutive individual state titles.
Youngblood, who draws inspiration from Blonien, didn't dare approach the dream of a four-peat after her win on Thursday.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's a new field, a totally different game next year," Youngblood said.
Goodin, who joined Youngblood and Bishop McGuinness's Sadeghy as the only players to shoot 79 or lower in each round, spoke highly of the composure of Youngblood.
"She's an amazing golfer; mature beyond her years," Goodin said. "She's a good friend of mine and I'm really happy she won."
The Lions return all five players next season. Durant placed third behind Deer Creek and Duncan as a team, largely in part to Youngblood's brilliance.
"I knew from her junior golf experience she was going to be a talented player for us," Durant coach Tanner Dupree said. "But I never expected her to come in and play on the level she did for us this year though."
Deer Creek wins 1st girls golf title
Deer Creek was dominant over two days, but nervous on the first.
"It's the state tournament," Goodin said of Deer Creek's tense first day. "Everybody's gonna have those first-tee jitters. It's just important to stay calm, stay focused and not let a bad hole get to us."
The Antlers ended up the most consistent of the top two teams, dethroning defending champion Duncan 676-686. Duncan led by five shots entering the final round, but paced by the composed play of three top 10 finishers, Deer Creek was able to win its first girls golf state championship in school history.
Deer Creek finished with three golfers in the top 10, including All-State performers Haley Hill (fifth, 79-83—162) and Goodin (76-78—154). Emily Folsom (seventh, 85-82—167) rounded out the core trio.
Allyson Wilcox (sixth, 84-80—164) and Jerica Gregston (10th, 88-84—172) were top 10 finishers for Duncan.
"I don't think I've ever been this proud of anybody in my whole life," Deer Creek coach Glenn Floyd said. "They came out yesterday (Wednesday) and struggled and got really, really down. But the girls that struggled with pressure in the past came out today and won us the state championship."
Goodin, an Oklahoma City University signee, said the Antlers' victory was made even sweeter because of the adverse conditions they overcame.
"The last stretch was really hard; my hands were numb at one point," Goodin said. "The whole team rallied together to push each other and make sure we could play through these tough conditions."