Squalicum senior girls' golfer Riley Andert didn't own a golf bag, gear, clubs or the aspiration to be a state-tournament golfer when she decided to play the sport four years ago.
She simply wanted to enjoy the game her dad had been pushing her to try in high school.
Today she'll be dragging her bag across The Classic Golf Club course in Spanaway during the first round of the girls' golf Class 2A State Tournament. She tees off at 11:14 a.m.
Andert has come along way since scoring single-digit points using the Stableford scoring method her freshman year, but her steady maturation has matched her drive to improve.
"I went from scoring ones and twos, and being really happy with that, to scoring 20s and 30s," Andert said in a phone interview after completing a practice round at The Classic Golf Club."
Each year Andert's elevated her scores.
The Squalicum senior, while arguably not the Storm's most talented golfer, finished first in points amongst her teammates this year. The reason? Consistency, said first-year coach Chad Herman.
"She's hits straight and doesn't' make mistakes," said the Storm coach in a phone interview. "She's doesn't hit the ball incredibly long, but she is very consistent. She has done a much better job on and around the greens. We've talked about limiting our putts to two putts, and she's done a good job of that this year."
Andert isn't a stranger to state tournament golf. She was at Lake Spanaway Golf Course last year as a spectator. She witnessed teammate Esti O'Connell finish her season brilliantly with an 11th-place finish after a recording a two-day 184.
No doubt Andert will try to emulate O'Connell's success last year. She's looking forward to competing this time around, though, after being a 2012 state alternate.
Andert finished seventh out of the 20 golfers that qualified for state spots during the Class 2A District Tournament Monday, March 15. She shot a 98 - the top score of any Squalicum golfer.
In spite of her placing, Andert's wait to find out whether she'd clinched a state berth was grueling. She conjured up past disappointments in her mind.
Andert played in the first district grouping and was in the only foursome to finish play before the tournament was called due to inclement weather. She had to wait a full 24 hours to learn her fate.
"I was actually kind of nervous," Andert admitted. "I played the whole 18 and was kind of nervous my score wasn't going to get me to state. Once the scores starting coming in, I was really happy that I made it."
Teammates Maddi Atwood-Knudsen and Courtney Flannery also qualified, and Andert was just as thrilled for them as she was for herself, Herman said.
It's one of the many examples of the senior leadership she's provided Squalicum, which finished second in the Northwest Conference standings behind girls' golf powerhouse Bellingham.
"She has been one of those girls. If it's raining out and not easy to practice, she somehow rallies the troops to go out and work hard," Herman said.
Andert is the essence of what Herman views as a program player.
"She is the embodiment and a great teammate," said the Storm coach of what he believes a proper role model is. "She is excellent in the classroom. As a teacher, we pride academics first and athletics second, and the last part is having fun. She doesn't take things too serious. She knows it's a game and people make mistakes."
Andert's intelligence shows in the classroom - she owns a 4.0 GPA and is attending University of Washington this fall where she plans to study bioengineering. It's also prevalent on the golf course.
Besides being mentally sharp and keeping her head after poor shots, her engineering experience helped her read greens, she said.
"I can kind of take the physics I'm learning in high school into the world of golf," Andert said. "On greens you can see how certain layouts will alter the path of the ball. It's really helpful."
Qualifying for state has been a result of Andert's four years of hard work and persistence. Making the cut and placing Wednesday, May 22 would be a perfect career-ender.
"To make the cut tomorrow would just be a great way to end the senior year," Andert said. "I'm going into it knowing this could be my last round of golf I play in high school. It would be nice to go out with a good round."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.