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Kaik qualifies for 2A state girls golf tournament in Spanaway
The Langley Middle School math teacher knew his arithmetic was right.
Tom Sage, also the South Whidbey girls golf coach, watched the District 1 golf tournament leaderboard with Jenna Kaik. He saw 12 girls on the leaderboard above Kaik and knew there were seven golfers still on the course. With the district allotted 19 spots (plus two alternates) for the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 2A state girls golf tournament at Lake Spanaway Golf Course, Sage did the math, then walked over to Kaik.
“I’m a match teacher and I did the math right,” Sage told Kaik. “Congratulations, Jenna, you’re going to state.”
Kaik, a South Whidbey High School sophomore, shot a two-day score of 210 strokes to tie for 18th place at Skagit Golf & Country Club in Burlington on May 17.
“It was surprising for me,” Kaik said. “At first, I was shocked. Then 30 minutes later, I got really excited.”
Kaik finished the round strong after a rough front nine holes. The rain and wind affected her on the front nine, where she tallied 57 strokes. Sage credited Kaik’s putting, including some long putts, for qualifying her for state.
“It wasn’t the greatest day,” Kaik said. “It felt like a lot more pressure to me. I really didn’t care what my score was.”
Coming into the season, Kaik was the sixth golfer on the list. She quickly advanced to the top spot, which she credited to daily practice on putting greens and her swing with her coaches, Sage and assistant Ron Eaton, which helped her consistency.
“I think I’ve progressed a lot,” Kaik said.
The small celebration was almost ruined on the 18th hole. One of Kaik’s two golf partners led Kaik by a few strokes. She hit into a bunker near the green and added five strokes to her score. Sage, always the mathematician, said if she had not hit into the bunker, she would have edged out Kaik.
“I don’t want to say it’s luck,” Sage said. “That’s just the way it works sometimes.”
Sage said he made accommodations the day after the district tournament. One reason Sage waited was his confidence in hotel availability in Tacoma or Spanaway. The other reason was he was not sure how his golfers would do on back-to-back days of 18-hole golf, since the team was only able to play a full round two weeks prior. Sage said he was confident in Kaik’s endurance.
“She’s tough,” Sage said. “She’s a soccer player; she’s not wimpy.”
Kaik was the only South Whidbey golfer to advance to the second day of the district tourney. Katie Ewing and Emily Houck were both eliminated after the first day, with scores of 124 and 128 strokes respectively. Sage expected Kaik to advance after her 102 on the first day.
“It wasn’t surprising,” Sage said of Kaik qualifying for the second day. “I was kind of hoping all three of them would make it, honestly.”
With only one golfer to coach, Sage was able to walk the course with Kaik on the second day. Despite the opportunity for one-on-one tutelage, Sage said he remained on the walkway and rarely spoke to Kaik from one hole’s green to the next hole’s tee.
“She’s pretty cool,” Sage said of Kaik’s nerves. “Jenna never says a word, she’s very coachable, she’s very calm. There’s a reason she’s going to state, and it’s because she’s not flighty.”
This is the second year in a row Sage has sent a golfer to the state championship tournament. Sage wanted to set a goal for Kaik to shoot a personal best of under 102 strokes and expected the day-two qualifying cutoff at 97 strokes, based on past experiences at the state tournaments.
A personal best is the optimistic goal between the Falcon coach and golfer. Kaik had a more humble goal, albeit with a laugh.
“I just don’t want to get one of the lowest scores,” Kaik said. “If I make it to day two, that would be really cool.”