Truth be told, Homewood-Flossmoor's Michelle Mayer had to deal with more disappointment her senior season than she would have liked.
After winning the Class AA team golf title in 2009, Mayer's Vikings finished second in 2010. And after helping the water polo team earn a fourth-place state finish in her junior year, Mayer and her teammates fell in the 2011 quarterfinals.
But those finishes don't overshadow Mayer's accomplishments. In 2010-11, the H-F senior dominated two sports in a way no one else in the area did, and led both of her teams to the state finals.
For those reasons, Mayer is the 2011 Times Female Athlete of the Year.
"There is no kid that just has a drive to win or has such a constant level of intensity with everything she does like Michelle," H-F water polo coach Pat Duignan said. "She's willing to do whatever she can to advance the team. She's just great."
Despite the finishes in golf and water polo, Mayer still managed to win at least one state title her senior year. She competed in the yearbook-layout event for the Vikings' state-champion journalism team and took third in her event at sectionals.
When she wasn't competing for state titles, Mayer was hitting the books. The two-sport star graduated with a 5.87 GPA (6.0 scale), finishing ninth in a class of about 700 students.
"I love having a busy schedule (because) it actually keeps me focused," Mayer said. "I think it helps more academically than anything.
"I think a lot of student-athletes do better in school. They're forced to figure out time management, what they need to get done and when."
Mayer will continue her academic career at the University of Illinois, where she will study at the business college. Of course, she will also be continuing her golf career in Champaign.
As much as it pains Mayer to admit, though, she is probably done playing water polo. While U of I does have a club team, she says she will need to focus purely on golf and academics.
"I probably decided around eighth grade that golf was my future," Mayer said. "I didn't really realize how good I would become in water polo.
"I had to reset my goals and my time and preparation to focus on getting a golf scholarship when I was in eighth grade. My water polo accomplishments just came along the way."
The decision to pursue golf over water polo was one that Mayer watched her sister make earlier.
Rachel Mayer, who golfs for Loyola University, graduated from H-F in 2009, and also starred in both sports. But that choice was not the only way in which Rachel affected her little sister.
"When I was growing up, Rachel was my biggest competitor," Michelle said. "She's two years older, and it seemed like she was always one step ahead of me.
"I always wanted to be like her. That's probably how I got involved in golf in the first place actually, so I'd like to thank her for that."
As she prepares to make the move to college, Michelle says she still thinks about what could have been in her senior season. But, with an assist from her father, Dr. David Mayer, time is healing those wounds.
"I still have those moments where I look back on this year and say, ‘I could have done this, I could have done that,'" Michelle said. "But overall, my dad kind of put it in perspective for me.
"How many people have won a state championship in golf and gotten runner-up two other years? Second-first-second? That's a pretty good run."