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Girls golf team wins district; aims for state
If girls golf coach Tom Sage and team members Jennifer Pan, Adrienne Hawley and Hailey Mansfield want to make their pre-season prediction of a state championship come true, it's going to take two fabulous rounds of golf.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Falcon girls played well enough to win the Northwest District 2A championship, but qualified just three girls for state play on Wednesday and Thursday. Now, in their quest for a state title, the trio will have to do, whereas a Falcon foursome was needed in last year's runner-up finish at Pasco's Sun Willows Golf Course.
Playing at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club Monday and Bellingham Country Club Tuesday, the South Whidbey girls came within just a few points of taking four again. Five Falcon girls made the cut after the first day of play at Useless Bay, taking their places in a field of 21 for the second, held in Bellingham.
Pacing the team, as she has all season, was junior Pan. Undefeated in North Cascades Conference play for 2003 and the runner-up to former teammate Taryn Langlois at last year's district tournament, Pan again rose to the top.
Using her strong short game and accurate fairway driving, she opened up a six-stroke gap on Nooksack Valley's Lindsey Emmert to win the meet with a two-day, 36-hole total of 195.
Ten strokes and two places back was Hawley. The senior, who was fourth at the tournament in 2002, moved up a place with a two-round total of 205. Her finish qualifies her for her third straight trip to the state tournament.
Also a qualifier was junior Mansfield, who placed fifth on a score of 215.
Just out of the top eight -- the state cut -- was junior Jessica Johnson. Her 221 strokes were good enough for ninth place, which is an alternate's spot for the state tournament. To play at Pasco, she would need one of the eight players from the Northwest District to drop out.
Also scoring for the team was Nici Eaton. The rookie player shot a 246 in her first-ever district meet and placed 19th overall.
Falcon coach Tom Sage said he was happy with his team's performance, especially considering the challenging nature of the two courses they played. Particularly difficult, he said, was the Bellingham course, where no practice rounds were allowed.
"We had tough conditions," Sage said.
Sun Willows may bring a welcome break for the girls, if the sunny, hot weather that is typical for the area at this time of year shows up. Sage said Pan, Hawley and Mansfield will have to play strong rounds to vie for a championship, but he rated their chances as good.
The girls finished the regular season as co-champions in the North Cascades Conference, tying with Mount Baker.