One of Olivia Benzin’s goals was to finish her senior year for the Bellarmine Prep girls golf team with a 4A state title.
Another was to make coach Mark Bender cry.
She took second two years ago in a playoff, then fifth last year as former teammate Alivia Brown won the title.
This one wasn’t really even close. Benzin followed her 6-under-par 68 with a 2-under 72 on Thursday to finish at 140 — five strokes ahead second-place Ashley Fitzgibbons of Eastlake and Newport of Bellevue’s Marianne Li — at Indian Canyon Golf Course in Spokane.
Bellarmine Prep cruised to its sixth consecutive state team title with 154.5 points to Eastlake’s 76.5.
“It’s a really great way to end it,” Benzin said. “It’s been an awesome year. Everyone on the team has been great, coaches have been great. It’s been a goal of mine, so I’m really glad I finally accomplished that.”
Her father, Rich Benzin, was there to greet her after the 18th hole and Olivia Benzin says, “You want a hug, huh?”
Next was Bender, who hugged her as tears swelled in his eyes.
“I hugged her and said, ‘You know what? It was your time,’” Bender said.
She put the finishing touch on her week with an eagle on the par-5 10th.
Benzin said she crushed her tee shot, leaving her about 160 yards out. She then hit her 5-iron downhill to within about 8 feet of the cup in the middle of the green.
She read a breaker to the right perfectly and sank the putt for eagle. The rest of her group made par as Benzin took a commanding lead.
“That was just monstrous,” Bender said.
Sierra Kersten, a Lewis and Clark senior off to Stanford in the fall, was two strokes back of Benzin after Wednesday but shot a 79 on Thursday to fall into a tie for fourth with Bellarmine Prep’s Tessa George.
George, the daughter of Bellarmine Prep boys golf coach Steve George, followed her 74 on Wednesday with a 75 on Friday.
“Nothing bothers her,” Bender said. “Kind of like her dad. But a much better putter than her dad.”
Steve George wasn’t able to watch his daughter because he was at the Creek at Qualchan with the Bellarmine boys team, which won its second state title in three years, edging Issaquah, 93.5-92.5
Lions sophomore RJ Manke finished in fifth individually, two strokes back of the lead, with a two-day total of 3-under 141.
Issaquah’s Zach Overstreet won the title at 5-under 139 after winning a three-hole playoff with Skyline’s Chris Mogg, the first-day leader, and Snohomish’s Ethan Castro.
Camas’ Brian Humphreys could have won the tournament had he not called a two-stroke penalty on himself on the second hole. He addressed the ball for a putt and caused the ball to move.
Humphreys, who won the state title as a freshman, hit it for a one-stroke penalty and didn’t replace it, so got a second stroke penalty.
Bellarmine’s day was far more fortuitous. The Lions wouldn’t have won the title had Joe Allen not eagled the 18th hole. Manke and Joe Highsmith birdied the hole to help as well.
“It was truly a team effort,” Steve George said. “Our five guys won it. It wasn’t just one or two guys. It was all of them together.
Olympia’s Nolan Backman and Thomas Jefferson’s Sean Yi took sixth at 142. Kentwood’s Nathan Cogswell and Bellarmine’s Highsmith tied for 10th at 143.
Central Kitsap’s Aubrie McKenzie tied for sixth in the 3A boys championship with a two-day total of 149. Bainbridge’s Sam Warkentin was first at 139. … Franklin Pierce’s Stormie Follen took ninth in the 2A girls tournament at 165. Ephrata’s Kenedee Peters won it at 139. … Cascade Christian’s Hanna Boyd tied for eighth in the 1A girls tournament at 173, 24 strokes back of first-place Lauryn Keating of Elma.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677