What a difference a day — and some well-earned experience — makes.
Montesano sophomore Hailey Blancas, the 1A District 4 champion, shot a respectable but not necessarily eye-catching 88 after Tuesday’s first round of competition at the 1A State Championship meet at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane.
Battling through some nerves and inexperience typical of an underclassman experiencing state-tournament play for the first time, Blancas at in a tie for six place in a grouping of eight golfers within four strokes of one another.
Blancas learned from her first round to shoot a blistering 80 — the third lowest round of the tournament — to surpass all but one golfer and finish second at the conclusion of the tournament on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs dynamo started her second round red-hot, scoring a 39 on the front-9 — five strokes better than the previous day’s round — and setting the tone for what would be a memorable day.
“Once I settled into my round I was pretty comfortable and going into my second day I was confident enough,” Blancas said of her improvement over the two days. “In Round 2, I had a lot more confidence in my putting and kind of knew what was going on. I saw that I had a chance to be toward the top, so I kind of just went for it.”
Blancas said her short game helped her make the leap from sixth to second.
“I started to sink putts and I just kept rolling from there,” she said. “I just felt more and more confidence as the round went on.”
Blancas’ final round included birdies on No. 4 and No. 11 as well as sinking 11 pars in the 18-hole round.
“I’m super proud of her tenacity. She played with great confidence and she was able to make up ground and then some,” said Montesano head coach Doug Galloway, who added no Montesano golfer had finished that high at state during his seven-year coaching tenure, including any golfer from the 2018 girls state championship team. “She completed a very similar task (to win) districts, tough kid.”
Blancas stated she was also helped by a vocal contingent of friends, family and teammates that cheered her on during the final round.
“I had a really great fan club the whole time cheering me on throughout the round,” she said, noting several friends, family and teammates were on hand to show support. “I think that really helped me get through the second day. Seeing everyone afterward that was supporting me, that was really cool.”
Charles Wright Academy’s Emersyn Walker took the individual title by shooting a stellar 143 (75-68) over two rounds of golf.
Blancas shot a 168 (88-80) and was the only other golfer besides Walker to shoot a round of 80 or better at the tournament.
Bear Creek won the team title with 96.50 points with Charles Wright (85.50) and King’s Way Christian (66.50) placing second and third, respectively.
Hoquiam’s Minh Thi Butler was the only other Twin Harbors area golfer to make the cut, finishing in 24th place after shooting a 207 (108-99), shaving nine strokes off her first-round score in the process.
For Blancas, the second-place finish in the season’s culminating event provides further motivation for the next few seasons to come.
“I think it definitely going to push me to work even harder at it because I definitely want to place top in the state, or as close as I can. I think it’s just a confidence boost and shows that my work has paid off,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure of what I was going into when I showed up to state. I was kind of just shooting to get as close to the top as I could, but I’m pretty impressed with what I accomplished.”
For full tournament results, visit wiaa.com/golfscores.aspx.
Aberdeen’s Rajcich places 12th in 2A State Tournament
Aberdeen golfer Britt Rajcich shot an 87 on Day 2 to place 12th in the 2A State Girls Golf Tournament at Tumwater Valley Golf Club on Wednesday in Tumwater.
Rajcich shot a total of 166 (79-87) over the two-day tournament to place 12th out of the final 34 golfers to make the cut.
White River’s Brooke Gelinas (69-72, 141) won the tournament, one stroke better than Tumwater’s Lily McCauley (70-72, 142).
White River won the team title with 147.50 points.
Pullman (70) was second with Lakewood (65.50) taking third.