Evan Thompson / The Record — Kolby and Garth Heggenes take a quick break from girls golf practice on Thursday afternoon at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club to pose for a photo. Kolby placed second in the class 1A girls golf state championships as a sophomore and is poised to contend for a state title this year. Garth Heggenes, her father, is the head coach of the program.

South Whidbey junior girls golfer to contend for state title

When a three-time state champion like King’s girls golfer Hannah Roh graduates, it would seem only natural for state title contenders everywhere to rejoice.

But not Kolby Heggenes, a South Whidbey junior who was the state runner-up in 2016.

“It’s kind of sad to see her go,” Heggenes said. “I’ve played with her throughout the years and really looked up to her.”

While her coach and father Garth Heggenes said it is unclear where Heggenes sits in the state rankings, they do know one thing: she’s in the conversation for winning this year’s golf state title.

“It’s always the goal,” Kolby said. “I’m just trying to be the best I can be, just working hard and keep going.”

“Getting second in state showed me my potential and it’s kind of time to take it more seriously,” she added.

Garth Heggenes introduced the sport of golf to his daughter at an early age. Kolby saw it as being a fun activity when she was younger, often playing with her family and on Hole 3 at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club near her grandfather’s home. But the more she played, the more focused she became.

“We didn’t push it too hard when she was young, but then she kind of took it more seriously each year,” Heggenes said. “When she got into high school, she kind of took off.”

The Falcons have placed second in the state the past two seasons, with Kolby being a contributing factor to that result in both years. As a freshman, she placed 13th in the state. The following year, she and her teammates captured the conference and bi-district championships. After the first day of the 2016 state championships, Heggenes was tied for second. Her second day round of 73 was enough to stay toe-to-toe with Roh’s winning round of 69, but not quite enough to overtake the three-time state champ. Garth Heggenes said the second-place finish capped a strong showing at state.

“It was kind of a surprise,” Garth Heggenes said. “I knew she was capable of it, but it was definitely a surprise. She brought it together at the state tournament.”

Garth Heggenes saw his daughter’s win through two lenses, one as her coach and the other as a proud father.

“As a coach, it was a lot of fun to see a player get an achievement like that,” Garth Heggenes said. “As a dad, there’s a lot of pride and more emotions when it’s your own kid to be able to accomplish something like that.”

Kolby said his presence has been welcomed.

“It’s definitely been nice having him here,” Kolby said. “He’s been there through my golf career, through all of it.”

Garth Heggenes and assistant coach Grant Lancaster joined the program last season. Lancaster, who is the club pro at Useless Bay Golf &Country Club, provides technical advice to the golfers while Garth Heggenes takes care of the logistics of running the team.

“It was one of things where I felt I had something to give and I wanted to bring Grant on to help with the swings and he’s been able to do that,” Garth Heggenes said. “It’s been a good combination where I just run the scheduling part of it and he works with their swings.”

Kolby also plays volleyball and basketball, but she sees a future beyond high school with golf.

“My goal is to play in college, so I kind of see that as more of my future in sports,” Kolby said. “I take all the sports seriously, but golf a little more.”

The Falcons open the season on the road against their Cascade Conference foe and returning state champion King’s on March 16. South Whidbey’s first home match is on April 11 against Cedar Park Christian at Useless Bay Golf and Country Club.