VISALIA — Hanford’s three-year project, as head coach Keenan Wyand called it, ended with the best possible result on Monday — a CIF Central Section championship.
“I got these girls, or the core of them, three years ago and I saw something special in them then and I knew we were going to do something special, I just didn’t know when,” Wyand said. “It being their senior year it might as well be their last year.”
The girls golf team brought home the first-ever Division III championship after outplaying 15 other teams for Central Section glory at Valley Oaks Golf Course. Hanford shot a 505 as a team and defeated runner-up Mission Oak by seven strokes (512).
“To be the first one to win this title, I think that’s going to take a little bit to sink in actually,” Wyand said searching for words. “It’s nice to be the first one, first coach, to do it. I guess we’ll be going down in the history books somewhere.”
As they have all season long, the Bullpups were led by Jillian Shipp at the top of the ladder. Shipp shot a 90 — the ninth-best score of the day — and helped her team secure the title. Her score was also good enough to qualify for the individual championship.
“She was a true captain, true leader this year,” Wyand said. “She was able to pick up slack for other girls who weren’t doing as well. She did the same thing today. “
Shipp led the team in all six West Yosemite League matches and was consistent as the No. 1 option for the Bullpups the past two seasons.
“She’s a competitor and that rubs off on the other girls too,” Wyand said. “We’re lucky to have her because she set the tone for the whole team.”
No. 4 Ashlyn Vidana posted a 99 to help her team, while No. 2 Katie Barragan posted a 104. No. 3 Jenna Leavens and No. 5 Emily Barragan both shot a 106 and No. 6 Lauren Dutra carded a non-qualifying 117.
Wyand said his team was patient on Monday and called the championship a battle of attrition with the 18-hole tournament lasting about six hours.
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“We had the conversation about just being patient and taking your time and trying not to stand at your ball and swing your club 10 times to wait to hit,” Wyand said. “I was trying to get them to think about other things other than golf to keep their mind occupied in between shots because it was a pretty long wait.”
The team will be graduating four players in Dutra, Shipp, Leavens and Vidana.
“It was so exciting, moreso for the girls than myself because the girls just put in a lot of hard work this season,” Wyand said. “I was just so happy to see them win.”
Sierra Pacific struggled on the day and shot their worst 18-hole score of the season. They finished with a 569 and in 11th place.
No. 1 Sam Coons shot a team-best 95 and qualified for the individual championship, but was the only one of her teammates to shoot below 100.
No. 2 Makayla Cawley shot a 106, No. 4 Megan Ulibarri and No. 5 Chloe Capello each shot a 114 and No. 6 Lauren Ulibarri finished with a 140. No. 3 Subreen Nahal shot a non-qualifying 148.
Both the Division II and III golf championships took place at Valley Oaks Golf Course on Monday. San Joaquin Memorial won the Division II championship — beating seven other teams — with a score of 468. Central was runner-up at 474.
From first to 16th, the Division III teams finished as follows: Hanford (505), Mission Oak (512), Madera (519), Nipomo (526), Tehachapi (531), Dinuba (537), Golden West (544), St. Joseph (552), Madera South (555), El Diamante (559), Sierra Pacific (569), Tulare Western (581), Morro Bay (587), Edison (614), Pioneer Valley (625) and Immanuel (626).
From first to eighth, the Division II teams finished as follows: San Joaquin Memorial (468), Central (474), Kingsburg (487), Atascadero (509), Sanger (521), Paso Robles (529), Central Valley Christian (539) and Taft (586).