South Whidbey girls golf won its first state title in program history on Wednesday.
The Falcons claimed the class 1A state championship on Wednesday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, edging out second-place Saint George High School 61-56.50. It’s the third state title the school has won in the past 20 years, but the first for the golf team.
“I’m out of my mind excited,” junior Kolby Heggenes said. “When I came into high school, I never envisioned winning a state title for any sport.”
“It was unreal. It’s not even set in yet,” senior Emily Turpin added.
Heggenes was the state runner-up for the second consecutive year after shooting 85 the first day and 82 the second day. Senior Riley Yale finished 25th at 192.
The Falcons’ other two state competitors — Turpin and sophomore Chloe Johnson — did not make the cut of 100 after the first round.
They played through 97-degree temperatures the first day and windy conditions in the final round. The team didn’t know the outcome of the tournament until the final group finished their rounds. It was the program’s highest finish since 2002 when the Falcons placed second.
“It’s the epitome, the ultimate accomplishment,” athletic director Paul Lagerstedt said. “I think anytime South Whidbey athletics and South Whidbey High School is recognized for something that extraordinary, it’s a good thing for our athletics, our school and our community.”
“They were excited,” head coach Garth Heggenes said. “It’s a great accomplishment for us. I’m just proud of them and proud to represent South Whidbey.”
Kolby Heggenes, Garth Heggenes’ daughter, fell short of her goal to win an individual state title. Her total of 167 was 15 strokes behind state champion Kaysa Panke of Davenport High School, who shot 73 in round one and 79 in round two.
“I’m not too disappointed,” Kolby Heggenes said. “I know I didn’t play the best that I could have. I’ll take second, but of course you always want to get first.”
She was tied for third after the first round, but got to a “horrible” start on the second day. Heggenes was seven over par after four holes, but eventually turned things around with a string of birdies on holes 9, 10 and 11. It was the confidence boost she needed to finish out the round strong, she said.
Garth Heggenes said Yale’s performance proved to be a difference maker. She beat nearly half the field with her total of 192, shooting 97 the first day and 95 in the final round. It was her first trip to the state tournament.
“She finally made it her senior year and she really stepped up her game both days to really help us win the title,” Garth Heggenes said.
Turpin, a second-year player who also qualified for state in 2016, missed the second round cutoff mark by two strokes with 102.
“I’m disappointed that I couldn’t make it to the second day because that was my goal,” Turpin said. “But I can’t be so mad. I never played golf before last year. It’s a huge accomplishment.”
Sophomore Chloe Johnson will have two more years to reach the second round. Johnson, who shot 119, said her most valuable learning experience was rebounding from tough holes without it affecting the rest of her round.
South Whidbey boys golf also claimed a giant win at state with a second place finish. Seniors Anton Klein, Ian Saunsaucie, Thorin Helmersen and junior Ryan Wenzek reached the second round and helped the Falcons finish ahead of third-place Hoquiam by 3.5 points. Cle Elum-Roslyn won the boys title.
It’s the Falcon boys’ highest finish since 2008 when the team placed third.
“Seeing ourselves have the highest finish that coach (Steve) Jones has ever had was a really cool moment,” Helmersen said.
Jones said the Falcons were the only team in the tournament to have four players reach the second round, which he said had the biggest impact on the team’s finish.
“It’s a classic example of a team that peaked at the right time,” Jones said.
Klein, who tied for 17th overall, said that if the Falcons did not have a fourth golfer in the final round, they wouldn’t have even placed in the top five. Klein didn’t expect everyone to make it through because it wouldn’t be improbable for someone to have a bad round. But, when he found out that all of them had made it, Klein said it boosted their confidence and reduced the pressure on their shoulders.
Saunsaucie finished tied for 21st, Helmersen placed 24th and Wenzek tied for 26th.
“All four of us had to show up and play well in order for us to get second,” Klein said. “It was a total team effort.”