A Cinderella story, almost

The word "bittersweet" was invented for good reason.

Leading the team competition by 4.5 points after one round of golf Monday and heading into a second day of play Tuesday at Yakima's Sunnside Golf and Country Club with the largest team at the 2002 2A state tournament, the girls from South Whidbey High School seemed to have a state championship written all over their score cards.

But score cards aren't tarot cards, so the Falcons were unable to predict a six-stroke improvement by Steilacoom's Jessica Stevens from the first to the second round to move up the rankings to second place to help her team outpoint South Whidbey 40-39 for the championship.

That's where bittersweet came in. Though second place in state is the best finish ever for the Falcon girls, it was tough for them and their coach, Tom Sage, to take.

"It was a very disappointing loss," he said.

Actually, it wasn't all that bad. With the youngest team at the meet, the Falcons built up a fear factor amongst coaches and players from around the state when they took the lead on the links after Monday's first round with three sophomores and a junior. Sophomore Taryn Langlois set the pace for South Whidbey, shooting a 95 Friday and an 89 Saturday to tie Lakeside's Kellie Parker for fourth place. Sophomore Falcon Jennifer was 10th in the final standings, sophomore Hallie Mansfield 13th, and junior Adrienne Hawley 17th.

Langlois was modest about her placing, even though it could rank her as one of the top three golfers in the state going into next spring.

"It wasn't expected," she said.

With a lineup like that, Sage said, the next two years look like a lock for South Whidbey.

"We were the only team with four kids in the finals," he said. "There are some coaches out there that are very worried about South Whidbey."

As they should be. Hawley, who wound up shooting a combined stroke score of 211, said the Falcons will be back at state in 2003 with an even stronger game.

"We can only get better next year," she said.

They will also be less intimidated. Hawley and Langlois now each have two state trips to their credit, while Pan and Mansfield made their first appearance at the tournament this year. Pan said the tournament was larger than any other she'd competed in -- knowing that up to 20 golfers were waiting behind her at any one time to play a shot was nerve-wracking.

Mansfield agreed.

"It was a lot of pressure and it was tough getting used to," she said.

All four golfers look forward to going back to Sunnyside, which they said was an "average" course that was relatively easy to play.

Team points at the meet were assigned by finishing rank. The higher a golfer finished in the standings, the more points she could earn. Two Falcons, Pan and Langlois, tied for their placings. In Langlois' case, the difference between tying for fourth and being there alone was the margin of victory for Steilacoom. She received the average of fourth and fifth points added together, 17. She could have earned an additional point and taken the Falcons to a co-championship if Lakeside's Parker hadn't shot the same score.

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