The Bellingham girls' golf team is lining itself up to win its 11th of 12 team girls' golf state titles after the first day's results from the Class 2A State Golf Tournament held at The Classic in Spanaway on Tuesday, May 21. All four of Bellingham's golfers finished in the top 10, and three finished in the top five.
Audrey Orem had the top score for the Red Raiders and shot an 80, Jenn Paul shot an 82, Brooke Branigan shot an 84 and Madi McNeely shot an 85.
"All four girls went out and played. I think we left a few shots on the course, but we knew that nothing could be decided today," Bellingham coach Brad McKay said in a phone interview. "The first round plan was to post a number and then improve on that. I know that some of them weren't excited about their full 18 totals. We are putting ourselves in a good position to win another team title."
The top score from the day was Steilacoom's Cherokee Kim, who finished with a 77.
"We were really hoping that somebody would go really low and put the pressure on the top golfers," McKay said. "Audrey played the most consistent of all the girls and shot 40 on both sides. That's all you can do is put yourself in a position to go low and try to win. It should be a good setup for tomorrow."
Orem said she thought because the team has played the course multiple times they felt comfortable. She said the team does have a goal of winning the team title and they are all determined to put themselves in a good position to go after it, even without having six competitors.
"We went out and played our game," Orem said. "I felt like today I played the best I have played all season. I struck the ball well and made a lot of putts. I managed to make enough birdies and that helped out as well."
Orem said she is hoping to hit a few more greens in regulation to help lower her score a little.
McKay said Orem was able to stay away from the big numbers and managed her play well.
Lynden's Emily Ming shot an 89 to finish 10th overall on the first day.
The top 41 players moved on to the second day. All of Bellingham's players, Ming and Riley Andert (96) and Courtney Flannery (102) of Squalicum moved on.
"We just need to go out and play the best we can," McKay said. "These girls have a lot of state experience and are comfortable playing with the last groups. Anything can happen and who knows, one of those top two girls could not bring their 'A' game. We have a few girls that could shoot really low. It's exciting and it will be interesting to see who does."
CLASS 2A GIRLS
Site: The Classic Golf Club, Spanaway
Whatcom County players School Score (place)
Audrey Orem Bellingham 80 (3)
Jenn Paul Bellingham 82 (4)
Brooke Branigan Bellingham 84 (5)
Madi McNeely Bellingham 85 (6)
Emily Ming Lynden 89 (10)
Riley Andert Squalicum 96 (21)
Courtney Flannery Squalicum 102 (33)
Maddi Atwood-Knudson Squalicum 106 (cut)
Melanie Henley Sehome 125 (cut)