Golf on South Whidbey had a promising start after a close loss to Kamiak and Lake Stevens high schools in a short jamboree Thursday.
For Falcon boys head coach Steve Jones, the scores were a sign that the rough 2014 season was behind them. Last season, South Whidbey’s boys team was narrowly shut out of the state 1A championship after Anton Klein’s tri-district score was just high of the qualifying mark.
“They shot well,” Jones said of his top five golfers: Ian Saunsaucie, Klein, Thorin Helmersen, Jacob Nelson and Zac Kelley.
Playing in a mixed scramble format with their Falcon girls teammates, the tandems came in with scores of 40 and 41.
The Falcon girls, however, aim to extend their state tournament streak. Their best bet is two-time state tournament competitor Rosie Portillo, who placed sixth in 2014.
She likely will not be alone. At the 2014 tri-district tournament, Tarra Moore just missed the cut by two strokes. Unlike some past years, all 12 of the Falcon girls had at least played golf before joining the program, giving head coach Tom Sage and assistant Ron Eaton some experience from which to start.
“All of these girls seem to be hitting well,” Sage said.
Typically a well-grounded realist, Sage predicted six of the Falcons would reach the bi-district tournament this season. Most are returning varsity players from 2014, including three seniors in Portillo, Grace Stringer and Meaghan De Wolf and sophomore Riley Yale.
In league play, South Whidbey’s girls expect to run into stiff competition for a Cascade Conference, district, regional and state title from rival King’s, which sent two golfers to the 2014 state tournament and won the team title.
“It was like a state championship every time we got together,” Sage said.
On the boys’ side, Archbishop Murphy is expected to return its entire varsity team that won the 2A team title in 2014. That will present quite the challenge to South Whidbey’s boys, but their coach said as long as the Falcons play their best, he’ll be thrilled.
“I want us to continue to improve our individual golf games,” he said.
The conference dropped the home-and-home series of previous seasons. Instead of playing at home and away, South Whidbey has the lion’s share of home meets this season and will travel to the schools it hosts this season in 2016. The scheduling change allowed teams to attend more tournaments and have more freedom over their season.
For the Falcon boys, it means five tournaments including the Dolan Invitational and the Everett Invitational.
South Whidbey girls golf filled its meets with non-league contests against conference teams, and Sage said he may take the team to Eastern Washington during spring break for a warm weather golf trip.