Coronado rallies to win first state girls golf title

It was the toughest golf course the Coronado girls had played on all season.

Add in the chilly Reno weather and a seven-stroke deficit entering the final day and the Cougars found themselves as clear underdogs.

But they quickly got back on track on the front nine at Somersett Golf and Country Club on Tuesday and rallied to claim their first state title with a team score of 681, six strokes ahead of Spanish Springs. McQueen was third at 716, followed by Bishop Manogue (733) and Bishop Gorman (757).

“It went great,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said. “We’re state champs. We’re coming home with the Nevada state trophy, so it was a great trip. Overall, the course was very demanding, but the girls stayed really patient. It was rewarding to see them get that trophy at the end of the day.”

After two consecutive top-three state finishes, Coronado finally broke through to dethrone two-time defending champion Spanish Springs. The Cougars shot 339 on Tuesday, three strokes better than their first-round finish. Spanish Springs shot 352 on Tuesday.

Coronado quickly erased Spanish Springs’ seven-shot lead and led by eight strokes at the turn.

“They were determined today,” Sawaia said. “The girls just made up their mind that they wanted it. It doesn’t really matter how you win. To come back from being down seven shots was nice to see. Not only did we make up strokes, but we bettered our score from yesterday.”

Samantha Penor was tied for the best second-day score after carding a 6-over-par 78. The freshman finished fifth at 166 for Coronado.

“She played great,” Sawaia said. “She had a great front nine. That really kind of put a charge in us. By the time we turned, we were nine shots up.”

Natalie Yamamoto shot an 83 on the second day to finish sixth at 167, and Gabrielle DeNunzio was 10th with a 175 for Coronado. Teammate Ashley Lung was tied for 11th with a 176.

Spanish Springs’ Katrina Prendergast was the medalist with a total score of 154. McQueen’s Alice and Michelle Duan tied for second at 160, and Green Valley’s Mercedes Khumnark was fourth with a 165. Khumnark, the Sunrise Region champion, was the top finisher from Southern Nevada. Sunset champ Allison Weiderman was 14th at 178.

Sawaia won his first title in 21 years of coaching girls golf in the Clark County School District.

“I’ve been really lucky over the years,” he said. “I’ve had some good individual players, but we always came across those good Green Valley, (Bishop) Gorman and Cimarron-Memorial teams. It’s really hard to win (state titles). But starting the year, I knew this was going to be something special. They all play for each other. Their work ethic was the best for any of the teams I’ve ever been apart of.”

DIVISION I-A

Entering the Division I-A state girls golf tournament, Julia Becker wanted to accomplish something that no one has done at Faith Lutheran: win the state individual title twice.

The senior got her wish at Elko’s Ruby View Golf Course.

Becker shot par 72 on Tuesday and finished at 1-under 143 in the tournament to help Faith Lutheran to its third consecutive Division I-A state title. The Crusaders shot a 697, finishing 13 strokes ahead of Clark. Elko was third with a 757, followed by Lowry (777) and Tech (854).

“It feels pretty nice,” Becker said. “I think I did good because I was able to come back from four bogeys in the middle. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it feels really good because this is the end of high school. I kind of did what I needed to do.”

Becker, a Sacramento State commit, became the only golfer in school history, boys included, to win back-to-back individual state titles.

“I think she played great,” Crusaders coach Mark Cheney said. “She had a stretch in the middle of the round with four consecutive bogeys, but she really showed her resiliency and bounced back from that. To post 1 under for a state tournament is a testament to her ability and determination.”

Freshman Sydney Smith could be next in line at Faith Lutheran. Smith, the only golfer besides Becker to shoot par in a round in the two-day tournament, finished second with a 148.

“Sydney really played beyond her years,” Cheney said. “She plays with a lot of maturity, and a lot of people don’t realize she’s a freshman. She played terrific, and we needed both her and Sydney to score well, and they came through.”

Olivia Vogel was 14th with a 194 for the Crusaders, who led Clark by four strokes after the first day. Faith Lutheran shot a 343 on Tuesday, but Clark carded a 362.

“It was definitely a challenge, and Clark pushed us,” Cheney said. “I told them I was just really proud of their effort. They struggled a little bit, but they didn’t quit and they finished off the round.”

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