OCALA — The Northside Christian girls sat shoulder to shoulder from a vantage point behind the 18th green, their eyes glued to each shot from the Plantation American Heritage golfers finishing up their round at the Class A state championships.
The Mustangs entered the final day at Golden Hills in second place. After shooting a respectable 305 as a team in windy conditions over the final round — seven strokes higher than their opening round 298 — the Mustangs' fate rested in the hands of their American Heritage counterparts.
So the Mustangs sat. And watched. The outcome, though, was not worth the wait.
On a day when the Mustangs needed to play near-perfect golf, it was American Heritage that performed flawless. All five Patriot golfers shot 76 or better over the final round to obliterate the rest of the field and claim its third straight state title. American Heritage shot 294 over the final round and finished with a two-day total of 590. Northside Christian ended the tournament as the state runnerup at 603.
"(American Heritage) was just on fire today," Northside coach D.J. Jackson said. "There's nothing you can do about that."
The Mustangs' runnerup finish was the second highest ever. In 2004, Northside won state.
A.J. Newell followed her opening-round 70 with even-par 72 to tie American Heritage's Kyle Roig for the tournament lead at 142.
In a one-hole playoff for the individual title on the par 4 No. 10, Newell's tee shot struck a tree down the right fairway and caromed straight down. Roig reached the green with her drive and two-putted for birdie to claim medalist honors.
Newell was 2 under after nine but four bogeys on the back ruined her title chances.
Michelle Butler (150) shot 75 for the second straight day to claim 17th. Anna Newell's 76 put her in a three-way tie for ninth with a two-day 148. Danielle Grace (163) fired 82 Wednesday for 34th place.
Calvary Christian was tied for 11th after a subpar performance during the opening round at Juliette Falls in Dunnellon, but the Warriors rebounded Wednesday by shooting 299 to jump four spots and finish in seventh place.
"We were obviously very, very pleased with the way we bounced back," coach Mike Baskovich said. "We were going for 305 and our ultimate goal was under 300. Only two teams beat us today, so we were ecstatic with that."
Aaron Watson fired 2 under 70 and Lee McCoy came in at 72 to tie for sixth overall with a two-day score of 145. Ryan Wood, who didn't figure into Calvary's scoring Tuesday, shot 6-over 78 to help spur the comeback effort.
Northside Christian recorded a 313 team score over the final round, for a two-day score of 615, which put them in eighth.
Nick Quintessenza (74) came into the clubhouse 2 over for the second day in a row to lead Northside; Gus Myers shot 76. They tied for the team's lowest two-day score at 148 and finished in a four-way tie for 18th overall.
North Palm Beach Benjamin won the team title with 580. Jesse Perkins from Archbishop McCarthy finished 6 under to win the individual title.