PANORA — When Emily Snelling went down with a torn ACL in January during a basketball game, there were questions flying around about whether she’d be able to defend her state golf title.
In her mind, her only focus was worrying about the present and seeing where it took her.
With three months of rehab, Snelling returned to the golf course, worked her way back to form, and Wednesday the Clear Lake senior capped off an unbelievable comeback with her third straight Class 3A state title. She’s the eighth Iowa prep to win three state titles in a career.
“It’s pretty cool, but even more amazing to be here with my team,” Snelling said.
It’s that kind of demeanor that got her through her career. It was never about how dominant she could be, but to her, it was just about making memories and the state titles were just part of that.
This year, her consistency shined through once again at Lake Panorama National Golf Course.
Snelling was tied for the lead after shooting an opening-round 70 on Tuesday, and then a 71 under the pressure to repeat on Wednesday captured her No. 3.
“It was just taking every shot and every hole one at a time, and thinking about the next hole and not worrying about what I did the hole before,” Snelling said.
Snelling, who was 3-under par for the tournament, wound up clearing Atlantic’s Brooke Newell by five strokes. The next closest was 16 strokes back.
With No. 3 in the bag, plus a runner-up finish as a freshman, Snelling has plenty to be proud of over an impressive four years while wearing the black and gold. But her coach Adam Brinkman said this year and what she had to endure — she didn’t play in a tournament until May and didn’t use a driver until the postseason — was the most impressive of them all.
“There’s not many words I can come up with to describe this year,” Brinkman said. “She’s just an incredible athlete and she works hard for what she’s dreaming for. Her big dream was to be a four-time champ, but to win three and have one runner-up is incredible.”
The cherry on top of the Lions’ sundae came as they secured third place in the team race for the second straight year with a score of 722. Atlantic won with a 689 and New Hampton was second with a 700.
Clear Lake sophomore Ashley DeLong grabbed her second straight top-10 finish at state as she tied for seventh with a two-day total of 171 (87-84).
“Ashley was a little upset with how she finished (Tuesday), but to finish seventh as a sophomore is great,” Brinkman said. “She was nine-over after eight holes and she played the rest of the round three-over. She battled back and she never gives up.”
The Lions’ Jordyn Barragy tied for 33rd with a 204 (102-102) and Mattie Krause rounded out the scoring with a 206 (103-103).
Erin Carew and Grace Hartnett added non-counting scores of 219 and 329, respectively.
“We were sitting third after Day 1 and we knew we still had a chance to move up but would have to play well,” Brinkman said. “Unfortunately we didn’t play the way we would’ve liked, but there’s nothing to be upset about being one of the top three in the state of Iowa. It’s a great accomplishment.”
Garner-Hayfield-Ventura junior Bailee Frayne added another accomplishment to her list Wednesday as she took home sixth place with a 169 (83-86). In three years, Frayne has finishes of 13th, third and sixth to her credit.
Her sister and GHV teammate Carlee Frayne, a freshman, finished her first state tournament in 26th-place with a two-day total of 192 (95-97).