Eastlake golfers polish off perfect season

May 13, 2014

By Neil Pierson

The Eastlake High School girls golf team accomplished a feat last week that longtime coach Pat Bangasser couldn’t remember happening in recent years.

Sophomores Ashley Fitzgibbons and Maddie Nelson led the Wolves to a 206-238 victory over the Redmond Mustangs May 6 at Sahalee Country Club’s north course, and Eastlake finished the Class 4A KingCo Conference season with a 10-0 record.

Eastlake’s boys team has finished undefeated in conference play recently, Bangasser said, but it was the first time he could recall the girls doing it.

Just as they’ve been for most of the season, Fitzgibbons and Nelson were stellar on Sahalee’s long, narrow fairways. Fitzgibbons had two birdies and shot a 1-under-par 35 for medalist honors, while Nelson finished in second place with an even-par 36.

“We joke that it’s the start of a new era with Maddie and I, because we’ll be playing together for the next two years,” said Fitzgibbons, who has been playing golf since age 4, much of it at Sahalee.

“This is my home course. I play here every day – all day, every day, when I can.”

Eastlake’s Jamie Midkiff also had a solid round, chalking up a 4-over-par 40 for third place. The senior will be playing collegiately at Washington State next year, and battled through a difficult afternoon of putting on some unusually slow greens.

“That was definitely a big factor,” she said, “because before, when we had practice, the greens were super-fast. Then we had the huge downpour and that slowed everything down.”

Midkiff had a few errors during her round, most notably hitting her tee shot into the water on the par-3 No. 8 hole, but kept her mistakes from compounding each other.

She closed out the day with a birdie on the ninth hole – a 417-yard par-5 – reaching the green in two shots and two-putting from 30 feet.

Midkiff said she’s improved her mid-range game this season.

“The past few years I can’t hit greens in regulation,” she said. “I’d have to chip on and then I’d two-putt for bogey every time. But I’ve been hitting a lot more greens, hitting it a lot straighter, so that’s definitely helped a lot.”

Fitzgibbons was less critical of the green speed, although she was adamant about her areas for improvement.

“Short game, short game, short game,” she said. “That’s the key to golf, and I’m still working on solving it.”

Redmond’s Casie Helgeson took fourth place at 7-over-par, and freshman Bethan Eames, Eastlake’s No. 9 player, shot 10-over for fifth place. Her round of 46 was six strokes lower than her previous best this spring.

Those types of performances could prove vital for Eastlake as it heads to the KingCo Conference championships this week. The tournament will run May 13-14 at Snohomish Golf Course.

The Wolves could then qualify for the 4A state championships, May 28-29 at Club Green Meadows in Vancouver. That’s a course the Wolves are familiar with, having placed third at the 2013 state tourney.

“Going into Snohomish, our goal is to beat our main competitors, which is Redmond and Newport,” Fitzgibbons said. “They’re definitely both good teams and I think we want to win districts and then go to state and see what we can do there, too. We have high hopes for both of the tournaments.”

None of the Wolves had played at Snohomish before, Midkiff noted, but they were heading there for a practice round late last week.

“Our coach says the first goal is just to make it to the second day (at KingCo),” Midkiff said, “play your game, don’t worry about making the cut or anything, just play the best you can, and if you make the cut, great. Then just worry about making it to state later.”

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