LITTLE ROCK — The essence of sports is often found away from the scoreboard.
Scores are forgotten; the relationships aren’t.
Thursday, Conway High’s Casey Ott did not win the Overall girls golf title for the second straight year.
From the one being congratulated, Ott switched to a cheerleader. And a willing one.
When champion Elizabeth Moon, who played in the final threesome with Ott, walked into the scorer’s tent Thursday afternoon, she was asked how she did.
"All right," she said nonchalantly.
"Pretty good!" Ott spoke up.
Moon won easily with a 2-under 70, an excellent round on a challenging and often aggravating Pleasant Valley Country Club course.
Ott did not have a great day although her 77 would have placed in the top three many years.
She had a good day during the presentation ceremony.
As each of the three top finishers (Moon, Baptist Prep’s Elizabeth Dunston and Fort Smith Southside’ Sydney Staton were given their hardware, Ott smiled and clapped and shouted, "Go girl!"
"I like these girls," Ott said. "We’ve played together. We compete but we are friends."
Ott hugged each, then gathered for photos with Staton, who she defeated for the 7A Central title.
She held Staton’s large commemorative scorecard, so she could comfortably display the trophy cup a photo. She and Staton walked onto a nearby putting green for another series of photos with family and friends.
Staton spent Wednesday night at Ott’s home in Conway so she wouldn’t have to drive from Fort Smith to Little Rock on Thursday to make her tee time Thursday morning.
During the overnight, did the two talk about golf?
"A little bit," Ott said. "Golf, boys, then we went out for ice cream, the usual stuff."
After the impromptu photo session Thursday as they departed, Ott and Staton embraced and smiled.
"I’ll miss you," said Staton. "Call me when you want to play a round together."
Two competitors departed, only one with a trophy.
Second place or fourth place didn’t really matter. Sports and sportsmanship were the bonding agents.