It was the kind of shot South Whidbey junior boys golfer Ian Saunsaucie hoped for all season. And it earned him a berth to the class 1A state championships.
Playing in a tiebreaker match with two other players from Meridian and Lynden Christian at the Falcons’ bi-district match May 17 at Jackson Park Golf Course in Seattle, Saunsaucie was on the verge of qualifying for state for the first time. Following mediocre drives by his opponents on hole one, one of which was shanked, Saunsaucie drove his shot 220 yards onto the fairway. With roughly 135 yards to the pin, Saunsaucie used a 9-iron to place his shot within six feet of the hole.
“I put myself pretty much in the best situation I could have,” Saunsaucie said. “I think that might have been my best shot of the season. Something was different. I just focused more because it was a playoff and all that.”
Though Saunsaucie missed the birdie putt, he holed the next attempt for par. His opponents recorded a double and triple bogey, thus securing his position as the final of 22 players to advance to state. His teammates embraced him with a hug of celebration shortly after.
“It just felt like I actually accomplished something this year,” Saunsaucie said. “I had a few good rounds this year, but going to state, especially in a playoff, was just a huge accomplishment. It was really cool.”
Saunsaucie was among five South Whidbey boys and girls team golfers at the bi-district to qualify for the class 1A state championships May 24-25 at Liberty Lake Golf Course in Spokane. Joining Saunsaucie will be junior Anton Klein, a returning state qualifier who shot an 86 at bi-districts. Junior Thorin Helmersen, who qualified for state in 2015, missed the cut, as did sophomore Ryan Wenzek, freshman Gabe Ross and senior Jacob Nelson.
Advancing from the girls team were senior Tarra Moore, sophomore Kolby Heggenes and junior Emily Turpin, whose combined scores won them the bi-district team title. Moore finished second with a score of 85, Heggenes tied for third with a 91 and Turpin — a first-year player — tied for ninth with a 100. The top 14 girls in the match advanced to state. Though junior Riley Yale did not qualify, she did record a hole-in-one on the day, which Falcon girls head coach Garth Heggenes said helped soften the blow. Because of their past performances at state, Garth Heggenes knew the bi-district would hardly be a roadblock for Moore and Kolby Heggenes.
“Tarra and Kolby, we were kind of halfway expecting them to do well,” Heggenes said. “It was a nice surprise to have Emily make it to the state tournament.”
Moore, who placed fifth in 2015, was happy to be returning to the state championships for the second time in her career. She was cognizant, however, of where she needs to improve and the type of performance she’ll need to put on in order to claim a state title. King’s Hannah Roh, who placed third at state in 2015, finished 12 strokes ahead of Moore.
“Hopefully in the next few days I can improve my off-the-tee shots and hopefully it will improve my score,” Moore said.
Heggenes qualified for her second state championship, though like Moore, she expected herself to advance. Heggenes hopes she can move up the leaderboards after finishing 13th last season.
“I was still really, really excited to have made it and felt proud of myself to get past this,” Heggenes said. “I would like to improve from last year’s standings and move up from there.”
Turpin battled through a flu-like illness to qualify for state in her first year playing with the Falcons. It was her determination that impressed Garth Heggenes.
“She just kind of gritted it out and played smart,” Heggenes said. “She made some nice clutch putts when she needed to.”
South Whidbey placed second as a team in 2015. They’ve already beaten two-time returning state champions King’s, and Moore is optimistic the team will have success.
“I’m confident that we can place well,” Moore said. “I certainly think it’s a possibility to get the state title.”
Klein will look to lead the boys team after placing 14th in 2015. He admitted that he hasn’t been placing as well as he’d like to this season, though he’s hopeful he can turn things around in Spokane.
“I like playing on those Eastern Washington courses because they’re not as narrow and a little more open,” Klein said. “I’m excited for that.”
“State is where you want to have good rounds, and the objective is just to make it to the second day so we can stay an extra night,” he added.