NORMAL — Lexi Onsrud did everything she could to make it on time to her 5 p.m. class Wednesday.
The University High School senior fired a career-best 2-under par 70 in the Girls Intercity Golf Tournament at Ironwood Golf Course. Onsrud should have been celebrating in the car on the way to class .... except she still had more golf to play.
"Teacher will understand," said Onsrud afterwards.
Central Catholic junior Katie Steinman, playing in Onsrud's group, also fired 70 for her career low round. Onsrud finally prevailed on the second sudden-death playoff hole when she sank an 8-foot par putt as the Pioneers earned their third straight team title.
U High fired a 307 total, its season best, while Central Catholic came in second at 323. Normal Community placed third at 341, followed by Bloomington (471) and Normal West (487).
U High freshman Reagan Kennedy was third individually with 77. Central's Faith Glazebrook and NCHS' Mackenzie Biggs both shot 79, with Glazebrook getting fourth on a scorecard playoff.
The Pioneers also counted 80s from Jadyn Spinks and Jaiden Mapugay.
"We keep getting better every time out, which is good," said Onsrud, who tied for 22nd at last year's Class 2A State Tournament. "We have to keep practicing on our short game to get better and have a chance for state."
The Pioneers are dropping down from Class 2A to Class 1A this season. The Class 1A defending champion happens to be Central Catholic.
"We know state is the most important thing," said Steinman. "We're excited for it."
Onsrud had four birdies in her round. She was 2-under on the front and even on the back nine. Steinman made three birdies and was even on the front and 2-under on the back.
They started the day on the par-3 No. 4 in the shotgun format. Steinman sank a short birdie putt on No. 18 to get to 2-under before she and Onsrud parred the final three holes.
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"It was very competitive," said Steinman, who also was second in Intercity last year. "We didn't know we were going to be that close until the last couple holes. I think we both realized we were tied."
On the first sudden-death hole, Onsrud had to get up-and-down from in front of the green for par, making a 5-foot putt. Steinman pulled her drive on the second extra hole, No. 9, left into high grass and was forced to hack out behind a tree. She then had to play her third shot short of the green.
Onsrud hit a good drive before hitting her approach well right of the green, leaving herself a delicate chip over the bunker.
"I think I was just nervous," said Onsrud, who was playing in her first playoff. "I was just trying to hit the middle of the green and not going for the pin, and it ended up over there."
But Onsrud hit a perfect chip and then sank an 8-foot par putt.
"I've seen her since freshman year, a kid with nothing but smiles. To see her shoot under-par makes me smile," said U High coach Greg Dennis. "I'm so proud of her to see the culmination of her getting older, better and a lot more solid. She doesn't seem to get rattled."
Onsrud said the chance to win a state title this year "made me want to practice harder over the summer." Dennis knows there's a long way to go until the state tournament Oct. 18-19 at Red Tail Run Golf Club in Decatur.
"I just hope we're not peaking too soon," he said. "But I don't think they think about that."
Central has beaten U High once this season in the Bloomington Best-Ball Tournament. Saints coach Dean Glesing realizes the task will be difficult to topple the Pioneers.
"I'm sure they (the Saints) do not have any overconfidence at this point," he said. "But we're a force to be reckoned with. On any given day we can beat them. We're just going to have to put together four low scores on the same day. We shot 313 at Brookhill (in Rantoul), so we're capable of going low."
Having Steinman leading the way is comforting to Glesing.
"What we're seeing with her this year is more consistency and a little bit more mental toughness," he said.