Steph Christner works fast.
Most coaches spend an entire career chasing a state championship. Christner has one as a teenager.
Her Eldon Cardinal team beat Bellevue 3-1 Friday night to win the Class 1A softball title, making the 19-year-old Christner the youngest coach ever to guide a championship team. The Comets' oldest player is only a year younger than their coach.
"It's amazing," said Christner, who'll turn 20 on Sept. 2. "It's these girls and their work ethic and determination. It's what they put into it. They come out and put the team ahead of themselves."
The youth movement wasn't confined to the coaching staff. Sophomore Allysa Fligg checked Bellevue retired the final 11 batters. Fligg worked through pain, as she injured the index finger on her pitching hand when a runner stepped on it while she was covering home in a semifinal victory over Edgewood-Colesburg on Thursday night.
"We weren't sure if she could pitch," Christner said. "She throws all of her pitches with that finger. It hurt her all night, but she did a great job."
Christner was pitching for Sigourney in the state tournament just two years ago. She got the Cardinal job after former coach Richard Speas quit at midseason last year and wasted no time taking the Comets to the top.
"She's really stepped up from being a player to being a coach," Droz said. "It doesn't seem like she's so young sometimes. She's done well."