SPOKANE — In the history of Montesano High School, no golf team had ever won a state championship — until now.
Mylaina Parker posted two sub-90 rounds to lead the Bulldogs girls golf team to its first state title with a narrow two-point win in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 1A/2B/1B State Championship meet on Wednesday at the Hangman Valley Golf Course in Spokane.
“It’s completely awesome winning this state title with such a great group of girls,” said Parker, who shot a team-low 173 after posting a score of 84 in round one on Tuesday followed by an 89 on Wednesday. “I couldn’t have wished for a better team to do it this year.”
Montesano scored 73.50 points to edge second-place Annie Wright High School by two points. Freeman (59.50 points) placed third followed by South Whidbey (58) and Pomeroy (50).
The Bulldogs put themselves in position for a state championship with a solid round of golf in Tuesday’s opening round. Taking on a Hangman Valley course that, as Monte head coach Doug Galloway put it, “had a little bit of everything,” five Montesano golfers made the cut heading into to Wednesday’s final round — two more than any other team on the course.
“With that volume of golfers, we knew we were going to have a pretty good chance to place someplace (on the team leaderboard),” Galloway said.
But the course, with its tight, tree-lined fairways, unpredictable greens and deep, plentiful bunkers didn’t do Monte, or the field, any favors.
“They were everywhere,” Monte senior Macey Wecker said of the sand traps. “They had at least three per hole, and I was in them a lot.”
Wecker, who shot a 185 and finished in 22nd place, said Parker’s game is suited to be successful on this type of course.
“There was a lot of girls that were having a rough time with those (hazards), except Mylaina because she has a long drive and can get over them,” Wecker said.
Parker parred seven holes and shot a career-low 39 on the back-9 in the first round.
“I know me and McKenna Miller, we struggled a lot on the first day and Glory Grubb struggled on the second day, as did I,” Wecker admitted. “I think the only person that had a well-rounded game this weekend was Mylaina. She didn’t seem to struggle with anything … She just kept pumping out low scores.”
Those low scores would prove pivotal, as Parker, Wecker, Grubb, Lauren Denholm and Morgan Malizia made the cut — setting Monte up to win its first team golf title in school history.
“We had the thought in our minds, when we had all six girls head to state, we were thinking we had a chance at it,” Parker said. “When most of our girls made it to day two, our chances rose and we were extremely excited for the opportunity.”
Ahead of arguably the most important round of golf of their young careers, the Bulldogs focused on lowering their individual rounds and were determined not to let the course beat them.
“My goal was just to make it to Day 2,” declared Parker, who added a key for her game was to relax and play loose. “Since I made it to Day 2, I just played and had fun with it.”
As the scores started coming and the end of round two drew near, the only Monte golfer left on the course was Paker, who was in a late grouping with St. George’s Madelyn Christianson and Freeman’s Isabel Miller. She didn’t know it at the time, but she had to best both Christianson and Miller if the Bulldogs were to eek out the victory.
As Parker approached her final hole of the round, the close score caused some confusion, as word spread that Monte had won followed by rumors that Annie Wright held the top spot.
“There were some people talking at the clubhouse that said we won, then said Annie Wright was leading,” Wecker stated. “Our school athletic director (Tim Trimble) sent us a text and said ‘we got it,’ then a couple minutes later said we didn’t. So we weren’t 100-percent sure.”
“I asked Rick Denholm to kind of keep me posted on the scores. Mylaina was the last one out there and he sent me a text that said ‘Mylaina had to hold her spot for us to win,’” Galloway said. “We thought the points might be wrong. … All we had was, ‘It’s going to be close. We’re not sure, but it’s going to be close.’”
Oblivious to the whirlwind of contradictory information, Parker focused on her own game.
“When I was coming down on to the 18th hole, Mr. Galloway was pretty happy with how I was playing, and I wasn’t even nervous at all. I felt pretty great about it,” she said. “I personally wasn’t even aware that we were that close in the competition. I was playing for fun.”
Parker parred the hole, which secured the title for Monte, though she didn’t realize it at the time.
“When I came in and got par on the last hole, everyone was cheering. Then they said, ‘We think we got it. We think we got it.’ … It seemed pretty good, the position we were in.”
With golfers, coaches, family members and administrators commiserating in the clubhouse, awaiting the outcome, Parker slipped away from the crowd.
“I was a little hungry since I started later in the day. … I decided to take a lunch after my 18,” she said before someone interrupted her while eating a buffalo ranch chicken salad. “A nice, little old lady tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘You’re team just won the championship. They need you for a picture.’”
Parker, who finished 13th overall, then quickly rejoined her team as they were awarded the state title.
“When we heard Annie Wright was second, we knew we were first,” Galloway said. “It’s kind of surreal. I knew we had won a state championship, but I didn’t realize it was the first team golf state championship that Montesano has ever had. That’s pretty cool.”
Galloway, who took over for longtime Monte head coach Lloyd Aldrich, was quick to give credit to his predecessor.
“Last year, he took five girls to state. All those girls came back.” Galloway said. “He was a very big part of this. … It’s not like I did some miracle coaching. I came in and tried not to mess ‘em up.”
After the state championship was theirs, the Bulldogs were still somewhat in shock as to what they had accomplished.
“We’re such a small school and golf is not a huge sport in our school, so it was a huge surprise,” Wecker said of winning the team title. “We had never imaged this would happen. In the history of Montesano, it never happened. So it’s really cool.”
Montesano (73.50): Mylaina Parker 173, 13th; Glory Grubb 184, 21st; Macey Wecker 185, 22nd; Lauren Denholm 194, 35th; Morgan Malizia 201, 40th.
Annie Wright (71.50): Nina Ye 156, 4th; Abby Givens 164, T-7th.
Freeman (59.50): Rhea Jansen (164), T-7th; Isabelle Miller 174, 15th.
Hoquiam: Bailey Smith 205, 41st.