Evan Thompson / The Record — South Whidbey senior girls golfer Riley Yale (blue sweatshirt) hits a shot at the Useless Bay Golf and Country Club driving range at a recent practice.

State runner-ups put their sights on a class 1A girls team title; boys aims to return to state

It’s go big or go home for South Whidbey’s girls golf team this season.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise for those who have kept an eye on the program over the past few years. The Falcons finished second in the class 1A girls golf state championships twice over the past two seasons, and captured the Cascade Conference and Bi-District championships in 2016.

While they want a repeat as the league and Bi-District champions, they do not want another second-place finish.

“We want to win everything again,” senior Emily Turpin said. “This time we want to win state.”

The Falcons will be led by junior Kolby Heggenes, who finished second as an individual in the 2016 state tournament. Turpin is the Falcons’ only other returning state qualifier after the Falcons lost eighth-place finisher Tarra Moore to graduation.

While she hasn’t yet reached the pinnacle of state, senior Riley Yale is hopeful that she can finally break through this season. She’s another crucial component for the Falcons this season, due to her experience over the past two seasons on varsity.

Head coach Garth Heggenes, Kolby’s father, said he’s pulling for Turpin to make it back to state and for Yale to reach it in her final try.

“I’d love to see them do well this year,” Garth Heggenes said.

Emma Leggett, Alyssa Ludtke and Chloe Johnson will round out the Falcons’ varsity squad. Heggenes said Johnson and Leggett showed solid progress last season and is hopeful they’ll make even bigger strides this year. Ludtke is the new kid on the block.

The Falcon boys golf team will be led by returning state qualifiers Ian Saunsaucie and Anton Klein.

Saunsaucie said his goal is to return to state; he was eliminated after the first day of competition in 2016.

“For the team, I really hope we win at least some matches this year,” Saunsaucie said. “We haven’t done the best in the last few seasons, but hopefully this year.”

If he reaches state again, Saunsaucie said he’ll approach it differently.

“I definitely fooled around a bit,” he said. “I just didn’t take it as seriously as I could have because I didn’t expect to make it to the second round. This year I’m not going to do that.”

Falcon junior Ryan Wenzek, a second-year player, missed state by six strokes in 2016.

“This year, that’s definitely my biggest goal,” Wenzek said. “I’ve been playing a lot better and my game has definitely improved.”

South Whidbey head coach Steve Jones said wins and losses for the team this season won’t matter if the players are playing up to their potential.

“When we move onto postseason play, the scores are going to speak for themselves and it has nothing to do with (the team’s) record.”

Expanding upon the importance of developing strong individuals, Jones said that the Falcons will compete in five invitationals this season. The invitationals are set up in a tournament format, which will provide South Whidbey with plenty of opportunities to become accustomed to tournament play as opposed to dual matches.

Jones said his only expectation for Saunsaucie and Klein is to better their scores and averages from 2016.

“Really, that’s going to be through their short game, so chipping and putting,” Jones said.