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GIRLS GOLF: Southridge aims to test Jesuit for top honors
by: MILES VANCE, SHE’S READY – Beaverton senior Christina Corona and her teammates hope to challenge for a state tournament berth in 2007.

Jesuit ran away with its fifth consecutive Metro League girls golf title last season and many figured they would do the same in 2007.

They did, that is, before Southridge discovered it had a superstar transfer and the Skyhawks finished just 12 points behind the Crusaders in the Metro opener March 20 at Claremont Golf Course.

'Everybody including their coach was surprised Southridge scored so high,' Beaverton coach Dave Richardson said. 'They were close to Jesuit and that doesn't happen a lot.'

'Southridge almost beat Jesuit,' Westview coach Tim Purvis said. 'Last year, no one came close.'

While it was an eye-opener, league coaches still expect to be looking up at Jesuit, last year's state runner-up and winner of the 2005 and 2004 state titles.

'Jesuit will be the front-runner but I don't think Southridge is too far behind,' Aloha coach Randy Renfro said. 'Then there's a logjam between Westview, Beaverton and Sunset.'

'Jesuit will continue to take the top spot this year,' Richardson said. 'The middle four will be in a real race for that second spot. I see that coming down to the last match.'

The Skyhawks pushed the Crusaders in the opener, but even with the addition of medalist Jane So, a transfer from Washington, Southridge coach Patrick Buckhalter admits that beating Jesuit is a whole different matter and the race will really be for second place.

'I don't think Jesuit is catch-able,' Buckhalter said. 'Before I knew how good Jane was, I thought Beaverton would be the team to beat for the two spot.'

ALOHA

ALOHA - Aloha coach Randy Renfro has been pleased with his team's progress through the season's first month. Trouble is, the Warriors started 2007 with little experience, one returning varsity player and two returnees total.

The team of six players features three sophomores and three freshman, a promising sign for seasons ahead.

'They're picking up the game pretty well, have great attitudes and really want to improve' Renfro said. 'We're building for the future. If we can keep those six and add a few more next year, we'll be more competitive in the future.'

Sophomore Aften Pankiewicz is Aloha's lone returnee with varsity experience and is the No. 1, while sophomore Catlin Doherty is the only other Warrior back off last year's team that graduated four seniors.

'Aften is a good putter,' Renfro said. 'She hits her drives pretty far and does well when she gets to the green.'

Freshman Lillette Lacaden led Aloha in the league opener and 'has been a real surprise for us,' said Renfro of his No. 2 player. Sophomore Krista Fleming and freshmen Natalie McGrath and Chelsie Smith round out the Warriors' full team.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON - Beaverton coach Dave Richardson has a problem, but he's not complaining by any means. The Beavers return five players that saw varsity action last year and have seven girls who will compete for five spots.

'With qualifying this year, there's some nervousness and friendly competition that will drive us to get better,' Richardson said. 'No. 5 was more of a fill-in last year. This year we have seven that can compete at the level and be legitimate varsity players.'

That's forcing seniors Christina Corona and Melissa Rains and junior Kassidy Banks to step up in order to maintain the top spots they've held the last couple years. Corona, who was second team all-league in 2006, and Rains have been 1-2 since their sophomore seasons.

'Christina is continuing to grow as a golfer,' Richardson said. 'It's her focus on the course that has allowed her to maintain the top spot. Some of the other girls are maturing as golfers and can challenge her, specifically Melissa and Kassidy.'

Banks led the Beavers with 51 points at the league opener, followed by 42s from Rains and sophomore newcomer Megan Holland, who was playing in her first match.

'It's very exciting for her and the team to get that kind of score out of a brand-new player,' Richardson said. 'That was very unexpected. Hopefully she can build off that.'

Senior Kayla Smith wasn't far behind with a personal-best 39 for Beaverton, which took third as a team. Sophomore Megan Morris and freshman Kendall Cowley also figure to see some varsity action this season, making the Beavers seven deep for a varsity lineup of five.

JESUIT

BEAVERTON - Jesuit may have graduated three players off the 2006 team that finished as the state runner-up, but if the first Metro tournament is any indication, the Crusaders are well armed to reload and continue their dominance of the league, which dates back to 2001 - the last time they didn't win the Metro title.

'Jesuit is the strongest team in the league,' Sunset coach Brent Buell said. 'They are very, very gifted.'

Jesuit placed four golfers in the top-six at Claremont and had all five of its scorers among the top 11, led by a 2-3-4 finish from senior Sarah Arnold (63 pts.), junior Ceci Estraviz (59) and junior Madeline Jarrett (57).

Jarrett and Arnold each played on last year's state runner-up squad, individually placing 22nd and 25th, respectively.

'What Jesuit brings to the table are great golfers that are very consistent,' Southridge coach Pat Buckhalter said, as evidenced by the play of junior Julie Schroeder, who finished fourth on the Crusaders but sixth overall with a 53. Additionally, freshman Tori Opsahl was the Crusaders' No. 5 scorer and 11th overall with a score of 42 points, which was better then every other school's No. 2 scorer except Southridge.

Freshman Lauren Menashe is also competing for a spot in the Crusaders' varsity lineup.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON - Southridge took the league by surprise in its first league tournament, pushing Jesuit and introducing medalist Jane So, a junior transfer from Bellevue, Wash.

So scored 67 points to win by three in the league's modified Stableford scoring system as the Skyhawks finished as the team runner-up with 220 points - 12 behind the Crusaders.

'That's the best score Southridge has put up since I've been here,' said fourth-year coach Pat Buckhalter. 'I didn't know what to expect. I thought we had the potential to be good and knew we have a solid one through four.'

What he got was three players in the top eight, led by medalist So and followed by junior Allison Ahl (fifth) and freshman Kaohi Loo (eighth). Senior Stephanie Shipley added a solid score of 40 points to help Southridge earn the runner-up finish and provide Buckhalter with a pleasant surprise - the biggest of which was So.

Buckhalter knew So was a golfer having taught her in a class and discussing the game prior to the season. But she didn't let on about her skills and Buckhalter didn't find out until practice started.

'Jane's humble about her ability, but she's the complete package,' he said. 'She's just a dynamite golfer that's helped us in more ways than one. It's not just golf. She brings a great attitude.'

After a solid top-four, Buckhalter expects to rotate a few girls through the No. 5 spot with senior Lacey Gray, juniors Laura Davis and Jill Tohlen and sophomore Rebecca Reed contending to fill the final varsity slot.

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL - After spending the last few season as an assistant, Sunset's first-year coach Brent Buell is more concerned with generating interest and adding members than getting immediate results.

The Apollos had just eight players last year and graduated three of them off the varsity lineup. Sunset will be young in 2007, but Buell's goal is continuing development of a squad that carries just one senior.

'With our program, we're trying to develop interest, get girls out and create excitement and a love of the game,' Buell said. 'We'll work on the scores later.'

That's not to say the Apollos don't intend to contend for the Metro's second state berth in 2007. Senior Hyojung Na and junior Kelsey Bledsoe are Sunset's two returning varsity players, and Buell believes Na could be an individual state qualifier despite her numerous extracurricular activities.

'It's amazing how gifted Hyojung is to take time off and still swing like that,' Buell said. 'Kelsey has really developed a love for the game and it shows. She has a great work ethic.'

Na and Bledsoe were part of the Apollo foursome that finished within seven points of each other at the first league meet. That quartet also included junior Katherine Howard and sophomore Amanda Nelson.

'Both were JV last year and I didn't know what to expect,' Buell said. 'They got better as the round went on and developed more confidence. They performed above their expectations and were really excited.'

Junior Sara King was Sunset's No. 5 in the first tournament - her first competitive meet - while sophomore Kelsey Jondahl will contend for the final varsity spot.

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK - Westview coach Tim Purvis knows his team is still in a building process. But he expects 2007 to be a far cry from last season when the Wildcats scrambled to field a team of five players and were hard-pressed to get more than four of their seven girls to a practice.

Led by three returning varsity players, the Wildcats have 13 members this season and, more importantly, 13 strong at practice each day.

'We're trying to create a program where girls come in as freshmen and become progressively better,' Purvis said. 'That's a pretty big deal because girls literally didn't even know there was a golf program here not long ago.'

Senior Amber Politi returns for her third season as Westview's No. 1 player and fourth on varsity.

'She is as good as any girl in Metro,' Purvis said. 'She just needs to carry that over to the course.'

That could be sparked by a challenge for the team's top spot from freshman Samantha Chin, who has a 'great competitive attitude,' according to Purvis. Junior Molly Smith is set to fill the No. 3 role, while junior Allison Hillier, senior Briana Nielsen and freshman Courtney Smith will vie for the final two spots.

'Realistically, third or fourth is what I'm shooting for,' Purvis said.