At some point, the Bellarmine Prep girls’ golf team knew it was going to face a fight for a tournament title.
And it apparently will happen today at the Class 4A state championships at MeadowWood Golf Course in Liberty Lake.
The two-time defending 4A champion Lions appear ready, too, sending a classification-record six golfers into the final day – which very well could be the difference in deciding the team title between the Narrows League powerhouse and Lewis and Clark of Spokane.
“There were four or five teams that had five or six players here,” Bellarmine Prep coach Mark Bender said. “We kind of knew (Lewis and Clark) would be our toughest competition.”
Both contending programs have a co-leader in Lewis and Clark’s Sydney Kersten and Bellarmine Prep’s Alivia Brown, who each shot even-par 72. So did Central Kitsap’s Katie Lee.
What separates the Lions from the others is their depth. Jordan Ferreira, a Notre Dame commit, bogeyed the final hole to shoot 73. Olivia Benzin had a 77. And Gracie Dyer, the lone senior, had a 79.
Of the field’s 14 rounds shot in the 70s Tuesday, Bellarmine Prep had five of them.
Throw in Maddie Schulz (81) and Lindsey Gullickson (85), and the Lions have plenty of room to move up.
“All of our girls, we knew they had chance to get to the second day. And they are jacked up,” Bender said. “Getting six (golfers) in is really, really critical when playing Lewis and Clark, where their top three and our top three ... are separated by one stroke.”
If Bellarmine Prep can wrap up its third girls team title in a row today, it will match its longest streak (2003-05).
CLASS 4A BOYS
Nobody can remember the scores being this high to start a 4A tournament – but they were at blustery Hangman Valley Golf Course in Spokane.
Nobody broke par. Jackson High’s Kyle Cornett is the leader after a 2-over 74. Curtis High’s Aaron Clare and Eastlake’s Spencer Weiss share second place, one stroke back at 75.
The biggest surprise was the struggles of defending champion Dominick Francks of Olympia High. He shot 78 – his highest competitive round since the U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier in June at Gold Mountain – and is tied for 11th.
Francks started 2-under through six holes, but got in a bad putting funk on the back nine holes. He three-putted from 6 feet on No. 10, three-putted from 20 feet on No. 11 and made a double bogey on No. 12 when his approach shot plugged in a greenside bunker.
Francks had 36 putts in his round – 20 on the back nine.
“I was just thinking about making the cut the last few holes ... and then played OK,” Francks said. “I kept (my score) around where it is maybe possible to catch up. I will just play golf tomorrow and see what happens.”
CLASS 3A BOYS
With an even-par 72, Enumclaw High’s Tyler Salsbury knows he is not out of the hunt for his first 3A crown.
But he has work to do.
Shorewood’s Chris Babcock, who is headed to the University of Washington, and O’Dea’s David Fonua share the lead at 69.
Juanita’s Frank Garber (70) is alone in third, followed by Salsbury.
Salsbury, a UW signee, was 5-over through seven holes, but made four consecutive birdies at Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11 to recover at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane.
“I am just going to go and take advantage of the holes I need to take advantage of (today),” Salsbury said. “And I am not going to be in the final group, so that will take some pressure off me. If I shoot 67 or 68, I can get it done.”
CLASS 3A GIRLS
Rachel Lewis’ expectations this week are only exceeded by her classmates at Peninsula High School.
“It is weird, because the school thinks, ‘You won last year, you should win it again,’” Lewis said. “Golf is not like that.”
Lewis sits in a three-way tie for first place with Decatur’s Amanda Beyke and Holy Names’ Sammie Pleiss after 1-over 73s at Esmerelda Golf Course in Spokane.
The Seahawks’ standout birdied the 17th hole on a chip-in to finish the back nine at 1-under.
“I was a little sloppy at times, but I kept it together pretty well,” Lewis said.