An injury took Mary Kate Nelson out of 5A girls' golf title contention before she hit the first tee Tuesday at Tiara Rado Golf Course in Grand Junction.
The Pine Creek junior injured rib cartilage in the morning and the injury was painful enough to affect her swing throughout the day.
Nelson, who was in eighth place after round one, finished tied for 27th after shooting a 17-over-par 89 for a two-day total of 168, 24 strokes behind Cherry Creek's Calli Ringsby, who took first place by seven strokes.
"I decided, I'm going to play through it," said Nelson, who refused to use it as an excuse. "It really hurt."
Nelson said she's had a cough the past two months and that plus the constant swinging of golf clubs probably wore the cartilage down. Pine Creek coach Shane Brown asked Nelson is she wanted to withdraw, but she wouldn't hear of it.
"State is state," said Nelson, who was the area's highest finisher at the 5A tourney. "It's a tournament you don't withdraw from."
Doherty's Michelle Nakayama and Brittany Clark, were second and third from the Pikes Peak region, respectively, finishing 56th and tied for 58th, two strokes apart. Nakayama shot a two-day total of 196. Rampart's Jessi Moliter was 61st with a 201.
Brown is used to seeing Nelson's determination, and it's one of the reasons he's so excited to get one more season with her.
"I'm incredibly proud of her and how diligent she is and how mature she can play," he said. "I still see her play certain holes in ways that are beyond her years.
"I think that the fact that she's only a junior, her leadership with the girls, her attitude that is centered with the team and making others around her better and just being a great teammate makes you want to have a girl like that as long as you can."
Nelson soaked up the atmosphere. Because she finished the first round in eighth, she played in the third to last group, which included caddies carrying scoreboard signs as she played and a gallery on the 18th hole.
"It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had," she said.