Abbie Cantwell had seen, up close and personal, what it took to win a state golf tournament.
The Cactus Shadows junior had been paired before with Krystal Quihuis, who had won the last two Division II State Championships.
Cantwell watched and then put into action what she saw from Quihuis. The result was a state championship of her own. With rounds of 73 and 71, Cantwell’s even-par total of 144 at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen was one shot better than Quihuis of Tucson Salpointe and two shots better than Kaylee Benton of Verrado.
“I knew exactly what it was going to take to win a state championship,” Cantwell said. “You have to have a great short game.”
Cantwell was steady throughout the tournament making five bogeys and five birdies. Quihuis got off to a tough start on Monday with a first-round 77. Her goal Tuesday was to get to even-par with five birdies and then win her third state title with two more birdies.
Quihuis did make six birdies, but she wasn’t counting on a double-bogey on the 11th hole during Tuesday’s final round. “This is one of those golf courses that you can go for it on a lot of holes,” Quihuis said.
Benton actually had a one-stroke lead going into the 18th hole Tuesday, but hit her tee shot in the right, fairway bunker. He second shot embedded in the face of the bunker forcing her to take an unplayable lie and with it, a one-stroke penalty.
Benton eventually made triple bogey on the hole to shot 74. Notre Dame’s Sarah Eversman and Tucson Canyon del Oro’s Morgan Messick tied for fourth.
Tucson Sahuaro kept up the day of first capturing its first ever state golf championship.
Coach Megan Hughes team was indeed a team with two players, Desiree Hong and Taylor Hughes finishing in the top 10, The Cougars also had two other golfers finish in the top 25.
Sahuaro started the day in third place, nine shots behind first-day leader Notre Dame Prep. But the Cougars rallied and led the tournament for much of the back nine.
“We knew it was possible if everyone shot well today,” Megan Hughes said.
Hughes met her players between the 16th and 17th hole. She spokes words of encouragement and even though she knew her team was leading, she didn’t tell any of her players.
Notre Dame struggled during the final round to finish third and two-time defending-state champion Salpointe finished second.