COLUMBUS — As Aurora’s Danica Badura walked up the 18th fairway Tuesday for the final hole of the Class B state meet, she felt like she’d done this before.
“For me I’ve grown up walking up to the 18th hole and saying, ‘This shot is for a state championship,’” Badura said. “That finally came true. It just felt really good and I just stayed focused.”
The final hole actually didn’t mean much. Badura already had her first state title all wrapped up.
The senior shot a 1-over-par 73 on Tuesday at Elks Country Club to finish with a two-day total of 145. That was well ahead of Scottsbluff freshman Anna Kelley, Ogallala senior Harley Hiltibrand and Omaha Duchesne senior Lauren Goertz, who finished tied for second at 159.
Kelley’s score helped Scottsbluff take the team title with a 677 total. Gering finished second at 691. Ogallala was third at 700 while Omaha Duchesne, which was going for its fifth straight state team title, was fourth at 730.
Aurora was fifth at 803, but Badura did all she could. She was the only golfer to break 80 on a cool, windy Nebraska fall day.
“It was definitely one of the toughest rounds I’ve played, both because of the conditions and mentally,” Badura said. “I mean, you’re competing for a state championship. So just this week and this season my focus has just been on keeping my trust and my faith in everything and I thought I did that really well and that’s what won it for me.”
Aurora coach Rick Bell said he was holding his emotions in just before the medal ceremony began.
“It’s been a pleasure to coach her,” Bell said. “I’ve done really well not breaking down, but I might now. What a talent, what a hard worker.”
Badura had four birdies on the day along with five bogeys. She was at par for the day until back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th, but Badura came back with a birdie on the par-3 17th.
“She just grounded out,” Bell said. “The way she strikes the ball, she strikes it so pure. She hit some really good shots into the wind.”
Badura said focus was key on Tuesday.
“I think it just took a little bit more focus on shots, just figuring out what I was going to hit and how much club difference, but I feel like I was hitting it pretty well,” Badura said.
Badura said it was a dream come true to win a state title in her final high school event, especially after the disappointment of a year ago. Badura was sitting second by three strokes heading into day two a year ago, but the round was washed out so she didn’t get a chance for a state championship.
“I’m very happy to shoot 1-over in these conditions,” Badura said. “I know I’ve been shooting under par the previous part of the season, but 1-over in these conditions I think is pretty good, I guess.”
Now Badura can at least compare state titles with her older brother Caleb, who won two Class B crowns while in high school at Aurora.
“He’s got a couple, so I guess I can stack up to him a little bit,” Badura said.
Balance was the key to Scottsbluff’s state title. Led by Kelley, the Bearcats placed four of their five golfers. Sophomore Emily Krzyzaniowski tied for sixth (164) and senior Carson Hauschild tied for 11th (177) along with junior Halle Shaddick.
Hauschild was the only senior on the team this season.
“They’re grinders,” Scottsbluff coach Brock Ehler said. “(That’s) part of the reason they spent so much time this year and really working hard. The coaches pushed them to make every practice, bring the game to practice and make it competitive.”
It was the rubber match between Scottsbluff and Gering. The two teams had met up eight times before the state meet, with each winning four of them.
“Part of the reason we got better was because of them,” Ehlers said. “Because of them, we got better. And I hope they feel the same way.”
It was the first state title for the Bearcats since back-to-back championships in 2013 and 2014. Ehler said at the beginning of the season, he was hoping for this kind of performance from his team at the end of the year.
“But Duschesne won the last (four) state championships. They had solid golfers back,” Ehler said. “And then with Gering having a really strong senior class, it’s the best team they’ve had the last two years in school history.”