Inside the Club at Eaglebrooke clubhouse, the Northside Christian girls watched anxiously as the final scores from the Class A state golf championship trickled in.
A.J. Newell's bogey on No. 18 finished a round of 73 for the sophomore, placing her near the top of the leaderboard. More importantly, it capped Northside's team score at 298 for the day; the Mustangs began six off the lead.
Northside had to feel good about its chances of capturing the school's second state title after shaving eight strokes off its first-round score of 306. So the Mustangs waited, hoping first-place American Heritage or second-place St. Andrew's would falter.
"The anticipation is more nerve-wracking than actually playing," said Danielle Grace, who followed her first-round 77 with 8-over 80.
The arrival of the first wave of golfers from American Heritage dashed any Northside hopes of matching that 2004 state title. The Patriots shot 281 to win with a 581 two-day total. St. Andrew's 301 put the Scots in second, a single stroke ahead of Northside, which finished third at 604.
It was a familiar scene for Northside. Last season the Mustangs sweated in the clubhouse hoping for a second-place finish only to watch St. Stephen's take it away with its final golfer.
Still, Northside, with three sophomores and a seventh-grader, thrived in less than ideal conditions. And with so much riding on its second-round performance, the Mustangs didn't buckle.
"Two hundred ninety-eight is really strong for us," Newell said. "I think that's the best we've shot since I've been on the team."
Newell placed fifth overall at 144. Her younger sister, Anna, shot a career-low 73, nine strokes better than her round Tuesday. Michelle Butler finished with even-par 72 and came in 2 over for the tournament.
"We definitely had a really good season," Butler said. "I'm proud of everyone on the team."
Indian Rocks Christian's Ryan Ashburn placed 41st, finishing with a two-day total of 168.
CLASS A BOYS: Shorecrest's Jack Maguire had the best tournament among locals at the Golf Club at Bridgewater after coming in 1 under with 71 on Day 2. His 150 total put him in a nine-way tie for fifth. St. Petersburg Catholic, led by Matt Baylor, who had a hole-in-one and eagle to post 73, finished ninth with a 633 team score. Calvary Christian (634) came in a stroke behind the Barons to end the tournament in a tie for 10th. Lee McCoy shot 70 Wednesday to pace the Warriors.
CLASS 2A BOYS: Dunedin, led by Travis Huston's 68, posted a solid second-day total of 299 for a 629 two-day score to place eighth at Providence Golf & Country Club in Davenport. East Lake, which shot 302, was six shots back and finished 10th. Huston, who shot 79 Tuesday, tied for sixth. Two other Dunedin players broke 80 - Justin Foster and Westin Jensen, each of whom shot 75.
"They played awesome," Dunedin coach Rich Edmonds said. "We focused today. Our goal was to improve and get in the top 10 at state and we did. The kids really fed off each other."
East Lake was led by Terry O'Reilly (76-73), who tied for 12th.
Staff writer Keith Niebuhr contributed to this report.