VISALIA — It took nearly seven hours, but 13 schools and 76 girls competed in the CIF Central Section Division III Girls Golf championships on Monday at Valley Oaks Golf Course.
Hanford and Sierra Pacific were two of those teams who played 18 holes of golf and finished their seasons after failing to advance to the CIF Central Section Valley championships. But even without moving on, both teams had successful years on the course and took a moment to reflect at the end.
“This was icing on the cake just getting here,” Hanford coach Keenan Wyand said. “Definitely, this set the bar for next year. If we made it here this year and the girls are going to get better, they’re going to get stronger, I expect to be here next year and make a better showing. The future is bright for Hanford High golf.”
Hanford was a bit of a surprise as they weren’t expecting to even make it to the championships, but qualified after shooting a 550 at the West Yosemite League area qualifier last Thursday. The cut was 575.
The Bullpups struggled on the day finishing in ninth by shooting a 579, but they’re still young — featuring all sophomores and one freshman — and have a bright future ahead.
One of those bright spots is definitely going to be Jillian Shipp. Shipp, a sophomore, shot a team-low 98 and finished tied for eighth at the championships. More than likely, her score won’t be good enough to qualify for the Valley championships (the projected cut is 94).
“My drives were a big part of my game, they were straight and they were long, which helped,” Shipp said. “Definitely putting, I had a lot of one-putts, kept a minimal number of putts.”
Katie Barragan shot a 106 for Hanford followed by Ashlynn Vidanna’s 112, Lauren Dutra’s 130 and Jenna Leavens’ 133. Wyand said he understands what the girls need to work on and will address those problems for the upcoming season.
The top eight individuals received medals and five girls were tied for eighth. A tiebreaker will leave Shipp without a medal, but it’ll only serve as motivation, as well as their excellent finish to the season, for big things next year. And Shipp is certainly expecting it.
“We’re really young and honestly, I don’t think any of us expected to make it this far,” Shipp said. “We’ll be back next year and look to come in the top three, that’s definitely the goal. Top three next year and hopefully somebody from our team winning [a medal].”
Sierra Pacific was a different story as they expected to qualify and did qualify by winning their fourth straight East Sequoia League championship after another dominating season. Like Hanford, the team didn’t have their best day on the course and placed 11th by shooting a 596.
Their leader and senior Amanda Jorgensen played her final round as a Golden Bear and shot a 105. It wasn’t her best day, but it was a round she could appropriately exit with. After all, she has more than cemented her legacy with Sierra Pacific, especially as the only member of the squad who was a part of all four consecutive ESL titles.
“Not everyone can say they went to Valley [championships] all four years,” Jorgensen said. “We also won league all four years, which not everyone can say, so it’s pretty nice to be a part of that.”
Now that golf has come to a close, Jorgensen’s going to focus on the rest of her school year. She plans on enrolling in college and said her dream school would be UCLA. Jorgensen’s considering whether to major in Biochemistry or Molecular Biology. She doesn’t know if she’ll continue with golf as her focus will be on trying to get into medical school.
Sierra Pacific coach Chris Mesa said he’ll miss her leadership and the ability to count on her to bring in a good score.
“It’s going to be hard to replace her, but I know that Sam, coming up, is going to be able to step in her shoes and fill in nicely,” Mesa, in his seventh year at Sierra Pacific, said. “Losing Amanda’s going to be tough for the team, but we’ll be all right. She did a great job for the last four years.”
Sophomore Sam Coons shot the team low for Sierra Pacific with her 101. Ally Martinez was third with a 119 followed by Megan Ulibarri (131), Subreen Nahal (140) and Journey Claycamp (161).
“I had a bad nine like it was rough and then I had to talk, after I ended one of them, with my coach and something just clicked,” Coons said. “It was instant. I was shooting every good shot and doing really well.”
Coons said she had trouble putting and finding the green on Monday. Mesa gave her a pep talk and told her not to worry about a previous bad shot and helped bring out the best in her.
The Golden Bears are also setup for longevity and the future. Aside from Jorgensen as a senior, the rest of the girls are sophomores and one freshman. A fifth consecutive East Sequoia League championship is not an unrealistic goal.
Another West Yosemite League team to make the championships was Golden West. The Trailblazers’ Mya Chao was the top medalist with the lowest individual score. Chao shot an incredible 75 and will no doubt qualify for the Valley championships.
Golden West was also the runner-up at the championship, shooting a combined 506. San Joaquin Memorial took first place with a 482.
The rest of the teams finished as follows: Chowchilla in third (513), Tulare Union in fourth (531), Madera in fifth (533), Reedley in sixth (543), North in seventh (555), Tulare Western in eighth, Immanuel in 10th (592), Tehachapi in 12th (603) and Kerman in 13th (611).