WALLA WALLA - Wa-Hi rode a second-place finish on its home course Tuesday to a third-place overall finish after the sixth and final girls Big Nine Conference pod golf match.
Led by Jessica Huntsman's 11-over-par 83 on the Veterans Memorial Golf Course track, the Blue Devils totaled 390 for their top four scores and finished second behind Richland's winning score of 341. Wenatchee was four shots in back of the Blue Devils at 394, followed by Moses Lake at 406 and Chiawana 411. Davis and Eisenhower entered incomplete teams.
For the season, Richland claimed the Big Nine pod championship with 42 points. Wenatchee was second with 34 points, followed by Wa-Hi 32, Moses Lake 23, Chiawana 19 and Davis 4. Eisenhower entered incomplete teams in all six pods.
"We were just two points shy of second place for the season," Wa-Hi coach Mike Patterson said. "Considering we have the youngest team in the league, I think we did a terrific job of representing Wa-Hi.
Richland's Kristin Strankman was the day's medalist with a 4-over-par 76. Huntsman was just three shots off the pace at the turn but lost four more strokes on the back nine to finish seven shots behind Strankman and two ahead of Wenatchee's Jordan Takasugi, who was alone in third place with an 85.
A pair of Bombers, Kelci Robertson and Hope Neidhold, matched 87s and tied for fourth place. And Richland's Abby McMinn and Casey Tucker carded 91 and 92, respectively, to fill the next two spots and give the Bombers five of the top seven scores in the field of 34.
Wa-Hi's Marisa Jimenez shot 97 and tied for 11th place. Kendall Dunovant and Cassie Patterson turned in identical 105 scores and tied for 18th place. And Shanna Postlewait's 111 tied for 26th place and was Wa-Hi's fourth counting score. Summer Cartlon-Gantz shot a non-counting 134.
"Jessica really didn't have her ‘A' game," Patterson said of Huntsman, his No. 1 player. "She failed to pick up a birdie on the front side, and she had a couple of double bogeys on the back. But she was able to keep it close and that just shows the type of character she has.
"We're going to try and get some things tuned up for district, and I have all the confidence in the world that she'll be ready to go."
The Big Nine's district tournament will be played next Monday at Columbia Point in Richland. The top nine players and ties qualify for the Class 4A state tournament that will be played at Meadow Wood in Spokane the following week.
Huntsman is clearly Wa-Hi's best hope for a state ticket, but Patterson also believes Jimenez and Dunovant are strong contenders.
"Marisa's 97 is a personal best and she has been coming on like gang busters," Patterson said. "I think she can qualify, and Kendall has an opportunity as well. She had an off day Monday, but you never know with golf. You can have a girl come up and have a career best."