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Falcon girls golf claims third team title, sends three to state
South Whidbey, meet the Cascade Conference champion, District 1 champion and most recently, 1A tri-district champion Falcon girls golf team.
The Falcons brought home first-place hardware after qualifying Rosie Portillo, Jenna Kaik and Hannah Cotton to the state 1A tournament.
“It feels pretty great,” said Kaik, a senior. “We’ve been working for that since our freshman year. It’s a good end to our senior year.”
Cotton’s qualification may be the Falcons’ feat of the year. She barely qualified for the tri-district rounds after a rough outing at the District 1 tournament. She originally qualified to play at the Gold Mountain Golf Club as an alternate, but after someone dropped out, Cotton was a full-fledged tri-district golfer.
Playing in the last group of the day, Cotton suspected she qualified for the state match long before she turned in her card and finished with 93 strokes. The Falcon senior didn’t want to acknowledge it before it was official, though, and played on as if she was fighting for her spot.
“I knew if I started to relax I would start slacking off, so I just stayed focused,” Cotton said.
“It feels really good, because I didn’t think it was going to happen.”
Changing her tee tactic paid off for Cotton. She kept her drivers in the bag and relied on her irons to take her down the fairway, culminating in a par three on the 17th hole of the second round.
“I played safe and just hit with my irons instead of my driver, which hasn’t worked out so well this season,” Cotton said.
“I could out-drive the two girls in my group just using my irons.”
Cotton’s iron-clad game worked wonders. Her 93 strokes is the lowest of her varsity career by six strokes.
Portillo, a sophomore, finished with the best round on her team with 87 strokes, good for a seventh-place tie. Chipping onto the greens was her greatest asset in the tournament, especially the 17th hole where she birdied after her tee-off shot landed about 5 feet from the hole.
On the longer holes, Portillo relied on her chip shots to get her on the green.
“I’d be a little short on my second hit, but I’d make up for it with my chipping,” she said.
Kaik returns to the girls golf state tournament for the third time in three years. As South Whidbey’s lone state-experience golfer, Kaik eyed a return all season. That goal came under scrutiny when her putts started missing the cup and lipping out this week.
On the third hole of the second round, Kaik thought she had a long putt for birdie but watched the ball lip out and sit an inch from the hole. A few greens like that, and Kaik’s score shot from her District 1-championship 82 strokes to 90 at the tri-district tournament.
“It wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Kaik said. “It was all right as a score, I guess.”
“Everything was going well, but my putts on Tuesday were going straight for the hole and would lip out at the last second,” she said.
South Whidbey will tee off at the state 1A girls golf tournament May 21 at Lake Spanaway Golf Course. The tournament field is cut in half after the first day.