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Girl golfers expect state championship
No one on the South Whidbey girls golf team is particularly shy talking about what the team is going to do this year: They're going to win, right up through the state meet.
Standing on a soggy putting green at Useless Bay golf course this week and zinging balls through squishy grass, the eight-member squad still could not help but look forward to what could be the team's finest season.
Last May, four Falcons -- sophomores Jennifer Pan, Taryn Langlois and Hailie Mansfield and junior Adrienne Hawley -- came within a stroke of winning the state tournament. Though without Langlois, who is not turning out for the team after tying for fourth place at state in 2002, the 2003 Falcons are back with a small, but potent talent pool and not much doubt in their skills on the course.
"We left last year on a really good note, so we're really positive," said Hawley, who is the team's only senior this season.
Eight girls wearing various bits of South Whidbey blue were tromping the fairways during the first week of practice, a number that makes the team the smallest of any at the high school. But if three, four or five of those girls make it to the state meet, said team coach Tom Sage, that's all they'll need.
"Our goal is to be the state champions this year," he said.
This isn't an outlandish prediction. Last year, the Falcons won the North Cascades Conference championship tournament by more than 70 strokes. At the district tournament, they took four of the top five individual placings.
Only an unexpectedly good day from a Steilacoom golfer got between South Whidbey and the state golfing crown.
After proving they could beat almost any team on the course during the regular season last year -- except Oak Harbor -- the Falcons will not be putting their emphasis on the small meets. Those are just a training ground for the last three tournaments of the season.
The biggest challenge the team will face during most of the season, said Coach Sage, will be keeping track of their performances as they switch between stroke and Stableford scoring. As was the case last year, stroke play will be the norm for all NCC meets and championship tournaments. Stableford scoring -- which Sage said is more fair because it rewards players for birdies, eagles and aces -- will be in play for non-conference meets.
The Falcons start their season with a jamboree Thursday at Holmes Harbor Golf Course.