Red Raiders lead way to 2A girls' state


BURLINGTON - Usually the first golfers to tee off wait a couple of hours to find out how everyone else did. Bellingham's Jenn Paul and the rest of the players in the first group of the girls' Class 2A Northwest District Golf Tournament had to wait a day.

After inclement weather caused all golfers, except one group, to finish the day early Monday, May 13, it was decided that all golfers would play only 18 holes total. Some golfers played 13 holes and others didn't play any on the second day Tuesday, May 14.

A couple golfers even started the day in the middle of a hole, like district champion Madi McNeely, of Bellingham, who shot a 78 and started on the fairway of the seventh hole.

"It was good to start over from yesterday's terrible weather," McNeely said. "It was weird knowing Jenn's score the whole day. You don't usually know that. I got to that last putt and knew I had to make it to beat her score."

McNeely was able to make that final five-foot putt for birdie and secure the district title and a spot at the state tournament.

Bellingham's Brooke Branigan started the day in the middle of the ninth hole.

"It was weird starting with a putt," Branigan said. "I felt like I was practicing almost. Today, I hit the ball well and gave myself a lot of opportunities. I missed a couple of putts but I had a good comeback and birdied two in a row to bring it back."

Branigan finished with 80 after playing nine and a half holes, good enough for third place and a qualification spot to the state tournament.

A total of 20 players advanced to the Class 2A State Tournament, which is Tuesday and Wednesday, May 21-22, at the Classic Golf Club in Spanaway.

"It's always an exciting day because you have kids that finish in the top five and win but you also have kids whose season ends today," Bellingham coach Brad McKay said. "It was odd for everyone to be warming up like it's the second day of a tournament when really it's the first 18, but it gave Madi a shot at the district title."

Paul shot a total of 79 and took second, impressive considering she played through the worst of the conditions rather than the clear conditions players enjoyed on the second day.

"It was kind of nerve-wracking waiting a day for the scores instead of an hour," Paul said. "I was helping my teammates today and trying to not be a distraction. It was a really long wait."

Lynden's Emily Ming finished with 85, tied for fifth, and only played two holes on the day.

"It didn't feel like a tournament," Ming said. "It was fun to watch my teammates but you want to see where you are overall."

Bellingham won the team title and qualified four players total. McNeely, Paul, Branigan and Audrey Orem will represent the Red Raiders at state.

Lynden's Ming, Sehome's Melanie Henley, and Squalicum's Riley Andert, Maddi Atwood-Knudson, Courtney Flannery and Christina Kim all qualified.

Branigan and Paul have both played the course where the state tournament will be held and hope the experience will help them prepare.

"I think I'm going to be more comfortable than most of the players," Paul said. "I just have to focus on doing my best and beating par, not on what everyone else is doing."

Branigan's goal is to do better than she did at last year's tournament. She said she wants to stay calm and have fun and not let her nerves get the best of her.

"I want to have fun and make some birdies," Branigan said. "Just keep my head in the game and I know I can do it."

Class 2A District Tournament results

Skagit Golf & Country Club

Medalist: Madi McNeely, Bellingham, 78

Anacortes: Rebecca Cortez 129, Nata Tsitsiragos 134, Jenna McCord 155

Sedro-Woolley: Samantha Brown 113, Kelsey Johnson 127, Kristen Jewell 133

Sultan: Shelby Ruiz 109, Hannah Prentice 115, Olivia Kom 118, Kerrin Reynolds 130

Bellingham: Madi McNeely 78, Jenn Paul 79, Brooke Branigan 80, Audrey Orem 85, Alex Ferrier 116, Emma Lochridge 122

Lynden: Emily Ming 85, Ashlyn Morgan 120, Emily Crabtree 125, Emily Kurete 135

Sehome: Melanie Henley 105, Hannah Peterson 117

Archbishop Murphy: Natalie Crout 108, Molly Corbett 115, Branik Healow 117, Chloe Brooke Faber 131, Murphy 135

Lake Washington: Anna Jessen 84, Emily Bunnell 102, Sydney Majors 106, Sammy Miyake 129, Aly Madgett 144

Sammamish: Myra Maza 101, Jackie Nguyen 107, Rachel Monkman 109

Cedarcrest: Amanda Fairbanks 106, Caitlin Brenner 107, Bella LaBate 116

Squalicum: Riley Andert 98, Maddi Atwood-Knudson 104, Courtney Flannery 107, Christina Kim 109, Etaane Neumann 112, Jordan Flannery 122

Burlington-Edison: Abbey Atkinson 99, Annie Brunson 112, Lindzey Jaderlund 126, Sonja Eger 137, Erin Allen 165, Robin Sisk 145

Lakewood: Nina Forsell 96, Hailey Duitsman 112, Ellen Dowell 139

Qualified for state tournament: Madi McNeely 78 (Bellingham), Jenn Paul 79 (Bellingham), Brooke Branigan 80 (Bellingham), Anna Jessen 84 (Lake Washington), Audrey Orem 85 (Bellingham), Emily Ming 85 (Lynden), Riley Andert 98 (Squalicum), Abbey Atkinson 99 (Burlington-Edison), Myra Maza 101 (Sammamish), Emily Bunnell 102 (Lake Washington), Maddi Atwood-Knudson 104 (Squalicum), Melanie Henley 105 (Sehome), Sydney Majors 106 (Lake Washington), Amanda Fairbanks 106 (Cedarcrest), Jackie Nguyen 107 (Sammamish), Courtney Flannery 107 (Squalicum), Natalie Crout 108 (Archbishop Murphy), Rachel Monkman 109 (Sammamish), Christina Kim 10 (Squalicum) 9, Shelby Ruiz 109 (Sultan)

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