Falcons win league, enters postseason strong | FALCON GIRLS GOLF

South Whidbey junior Riley Yale hits a midrange shot on hole one at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club during the Falcons’ match against Cedar Park Christian Tuesday afternoon. South Whidbey won the league title the day after

Fourth-year South Whidbey golfer Tarra Moore has wanted to knock King’s off its pedestal for years.

This week her dream came true.

The Falcons captured the Cascade Conference title Wednesday over a Knights’ team that has won two consecutive state championships. While there is still much left to be accomplished this season, the feat was one the Falcons were chasing for several years.

“It felt pretty awesome,” Moore said. “We’ve been kind of trying to beat this one team for the last four years and to have that all happen my senior year was just incredible.”

“We’ve got a really strong team. We’ve got a very good chance of getting that state title,” she added.

South Whidbey was the only Falcon team this spring to go undefeated in league play. They outscored their opponents 640-318 while cruising through the regular season. The Falcons’ tight 85-78 victory over the Knights April 12 was the closest match of the season. The Falcons did so with two new coaches — head coach Garth Heggenes and assistant Grant Lancaster — as well as three first-year players in the lineup.

“It’s really amazing since we had a new coaching system; we had to switch up everything and got a couple new girls,” junior Riley Yale said. “It was kind of unexpected. I thought we would do good because we have some new players, but I didn’t really expect us to be number one.”

Moore and Yale highlighted sophomore Kolby Heggenes and junior Emily Turpin for their progression this season.

Heggenes was the top finisher in two matches this season, while Turpin, a first-year player, scored 24 points in the Falcons’ win over Sultan Wednesday. Her score was third best on the team and a career high. Turpin typically plays as the Falcons’ No. 4 golfer.

Freshmen Emma Leggett and Chloe Johnson have also come along well this season, said Moore, and even contributed to victories. It was a feat Moore couldn’t imagine herself doing in a similar position.

“My freshman year, the goal was just to not miss the ball when I tried to swing at it,” Moore said.

Moore has been doing independent research on scores around the state and found that the Falcons are among the best, if not the best, team in the state. She added that per player, the Falcons are ahead by four to five strokes.

And while the Falcons are gunning for a team title after finishing second at last year’s state championships, Moore has her eyes set on an individual title. Based on her research, Moore is among the top three individuals in the state. King’s  player Hannah Roe is among them as well.

Moore’s sixth-place finish at the 2015 state championships provides a jumping off point, and she hopes to move up the leaderboards this time around. It’s a do-or-die situation, the gravity of which Moore isn’t taking lightly.

“It feels pretty good — it’s a little nerve-racking,” Moore said. “I want to make sure I get as much practice in as I can and really hone in on my skills at this point.”

Moore said she’ll need to improve her swing in preparation for the postseason. She often finds herself cutting across the ball, which causes it to fade and lose accuracy.

“If I can just iron that out then I think pretty much every shot will be going dead straight,” Moore said.

Though the postseason tends to be geared toward individual play, multiple state qualifiers will aid the Falcons’ state-title hopes. Points can only be earned at the state championships, and a team isn’t hurt if someone shoots a poor score, assistant coach Grant Lancaster said.

“The more people we can get to state, the better chance we have at winning state,” Lancaster said.

Lancaster said there aren’t any major things the Falcons will need to improve upon, but rather, they’ll work on tweaking little things such as their short game.

The goal for the three remaining weeks is to advance as many players as possible through the postseason tournaments, the coaches said. They’ll play in the league championships May 10 at Snohomish Golf Course, followed by the District 1 tournament May 12 at Jackson Park Golf Course.

The Falcons will determine who advances to state at the bi-district tournament May 17 at Jackson.

If the Falcons’ regular season performance was any kind of indication of their potential, South Whidbey has a shot at making a run, Garth Heggenes said.

“It’s a great accomplishment to actually win the league, and not just knock off King’s but all the other private schools,” Garth Heggenes said. “It’s great for these girls to say that they’re league champs.”