EAST MISSOULA — The circumstances could have pushed any teenage golfer to the brink of self-destruction — regardless of skill level.
Katie Fagg refused to let it happen.
Leading by two strokes with three holes to play in the State B girls golf tournament, the Loyola Sacred Heart senior was forced to wait 45 minutes along with the rest of the final group. There was a logjam of threesomes at Canyon River, where holes 10, 11 and 12 were played twice Wednesday to make up for holes that were deemed unplayable because of winter damage.
It was a quirky sort of challenge for all the golfers, who were shuttled by electric carts in between several holes. But for Fagg, the inconvenience was buried under elation that came from winning medalist honors and leading the Breakers to a repeat team title.
Afterwards, Fagg (74-82-156) explained how she used the 45-minute delay to her advantage.
"I was just trying to keep a mental tally so I knew what to do on the last three holes," said the senior, who will play golf at Carroll College in the fall.
"State was a lot more fun this year because the competition was a lot tighter. It was exciting going into the last three holes. Not just signed, sealed, delivered 18 holes in advance."
Fagg took a three-stroke lead and her team a one-stroke lead into the second and final day of the event. By the time it was over, Loyola won the team race over second-place Shelby by 40 strokes and Fagg won by six strokes over runner-up Skyler Martin of Shelby, who seemed to lose focus after the 45-minute delay with back-to-back double bogeys.
"I think I'm a lot more mentally tough this year," offered Fagg. "It comes with larger tournament experience over last summer. That helped me prepare for this, like the Junior State Am and Women's Am and events like that."
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Loyola coach Mike Trudnowski was impressed with Fagg's perseverance.
"She has that athletic mind," the coach said. "Not only in terms of being able to score well in golf, but she has that athletic mind to say, I got this. I'm going to take care of it. Which is kind of cool."
Fagg wasn't the only Breaker to rise to the occasion. Isadora Tomazeli finished fifth overall with a score of 86-86-172. Kelsey Esh took ninth at 94-89-183 and Ashton Libel finished strong with her 118-99-217.
"They picked one another up and you can see that in their scores," said Trudnowski, whose team avenged a loss to Shelby earlier this season. "Our fourth person Ashton (Libel) breaks 100 today, our third person Kelsey Esh breaks 90 for the first time. Some were maybe worse and some better, but they're always there to support one another."
One of the key components to success for the Breakers, according to Trudnowski, was creativity in the face of challenging spring weather.
"With the short season, it was like, what can we do to help them get ready?" he said. "It was always a concern of ours with being inside, canceled tournaments and things like that.
"Our focus has been on the family thing. They worked on the concept of supporting one another throughout these ups and downs of the short season. Plus the idea of having patience and perseverance when it came to their game. It really came together today."
For Fagg, who finished as runner-up medalist as a sophomore and junior, Wednesday was the topper for a memorable career.
"We worked so hard to throw a team together this year," she said. "We had to reach deep and find a few golfers at the last second but we pulled it off."