As far as first experiences go at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A girls golf state championships, St. Mary’s freshman Baylee Hammericksen couldn’t have had it much better at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
Well, she could have, but it wouldn’t have mattered much to the overall picture.
The 15-year-old Hammericksen held steady after a 2-under-par first round on Monday with an even-par showing Tuesday to finish at 2-under 142 for the two-day event and win her first individual state title by five strokes over runner-up Tori Suto of Wallowa/Joseph (147).
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet but it’s pretty cool,” said Hammericksen of earning medalist honors. “I’m pretty proud of myself, I’ve worked really hard to get to this point and I’m really happy that all the years of practice that I’ve put in have paid off.”
Even better, Hammericksen got plenty of support from her Crusader teammates to cap off what turned into a historic weekend for the Medford school as St. Mary’s won its third straight team title in spectacular fashion. With junior Kaylee Wu placing fourth after rounds of 74 and 78 for a 152 total and senior Kamryn Ford right behind her in fifth place at 158, St. Mary’s came in a whopping 86 strokes ahead of second-place Heppner/Ione with a 651 team score.
That 651 mark proved to be the lowest total since the Oregon School Activities Association adopted the 4A/3A/2A/1A grouping in 2007, and it’s the lowest two-day score in state history for any 3A and under level.
“That’s really something to be proud of, that’s awesome,” said first-year St. Mary’s head coach Kevin Klabunde. “We won by 86 shots and I thought that was pretty impressive but when you’re talking about state history, that’s incredible. I’m just so proud of all the girls.”
It was the fourth state title in program history after St. Mary’s also won it all in 2009. The Crusaders have finished as state runner-up five times (2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011).
Cascade Christian finished eighth in the team standings, with junior Kimi Brown leading the charge by tying for 27th place with a 196 total after rounds of 97 and 99. The Challengers scored an 842 overall.
Phoenix placed 12th as a team at 881, led by senior Bella Lopez, who tied for 30th at 199.
Rogue River senior Sophia Woodall backed up her opening-round 96 with a 99 on Tuesday to finish tied for 22nd at 195 as her school’s lone representative.
Despite the low scores posted by St. Mary’s, Tuesday’s final round definitely was no simple walk in the park. Although the temperatures were a little easier on the players for the second round, the course conditions grew more difficult and tested the field — including Hammericksen. The freshman found herself out of rhythm early in her round but worked to minimize any damage as she toured the course.
“It definitely wasn’t one of my best days,” she said with a laugh. “Coming off yesterday’s 2 under I was pretty excited to see what I could do but even from the beginning I had a harder time and wasn’t quite as fluid and my mind started to wander thinking about what everyone else was doing. It was hard for me to get back in the zone. I hit some shots that I’m not very proud of, and I was able to scrape by with some pars.”
Hammericksen had four birdies against four bogeys in Tuesday’s round, and finished with eight birdies for the tournament.
“I was particularly proud of Baylee,” said Klabunde. “She showed me remarkable strength of courage and mind by holding things together when she didn’t have her best stuff today. She held it together and did what she needed to do.”
“I never doubted her abilities,” added the coach. “She knows her game and she’s got a great practice and work ethic. She’s probably one of the easiest kids I’ve ever had to coach.”
Even though she owned a share of the first-day lead, Hammericksen didn’t try to entertain any grand thoughts heading into Day 2.
“Really for me it was just about focusing and taking it one shot at a time instead of thinking about birdies or posting a certain score,” she said. “Going into today I wasn’t even thinking about medalist or state championships or even-par or under-par, I was just thinking what do I need to do to get the next shot in the position where I want it to be and then going from there.”
Wu experienced some of the same battles as Hammericksen and came through with another top-four finishing to continue her consistent play for St. Mary’s. She was fourth as a freshman and second as a sophomore, and will have one more year to join older brothers Dylan, Jeremy and Josh as individual state champions in the family.
Ford, who was the 2016 state champion, rebounded nicely from a tough opening day to finish fifth with a second-round 76 that included three birdies.
St. Mary’s No. 4 scorer Tuesday was sophomore Grace Johnson, who carded a 102 and finished her two-day run tied for 37th at 206. Monday’s fourth scorer, Jumin Oh, sat out Tuesday in favor of senior Josie Wang.
As good as it was this weekend for the Crusaders, things could potentially get even better next year.
“I would not be at all surprised if we can continue it next year,” said Klabunde. “We’re going to really miss Kamryn’s consistency but Baylee has a younger sister (Riley) that will be on the team and she works on her game every bit as hard as Baylee does. I don’t know that we’re going to drop off at all, especially if all the girls continue to improve.”
TEAM SCORES: St. Mary’s 323-328—651, Heppner/Ione 366-371—737, Valley Catholic 397-380—777, Salem Academy/Blanchet Catholic 396-389—785, La Grande 397-394—791, Taft 432-388—820, Scappoose 401-420—821, Cascade Christian 418-424—842, Baker/Powder Valley 421-426—847, Oregon Episcopal 418-435—853, Waldport 437-433—870, Phoenix 466-415—881.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 5): 1, Baylee Hammericksen, St. Mary’s, 70-72—142; 2, Tori Suto, Wallowa/Joseph, 75-72—147; 3, Yvonne Vinceri, Riverdale, 70-79—149; 4, Kaylee Wu, St. Mary’s, 74-78—152; 5, Kamryn Ford, St. Mary’s, 82-76—158.
Other Local Results
T22, Sophia Woodall, Rogue River, 96-99—195.
ST. MARY’S (651): 1, Baylee Hammericksen, 70-72—142; 4, Kaylee Wu, 74-78—152; 5, Kamryn Ford, 82-76—158; T37, Grace Johnson 104-102—206; 39, Jumin Oh 97/Josie Wang 111—208.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (842): T27, Kimi Brown, 97-99—196; T34, Tess Homeier, 102-103—205; T44, Lexi Purdy, 105-111—216; T50, Bryton Plankenhorn, 114-111—225; 55, Shallan Spencer 114/Gabi Philp 114—228.
PHOENIX (881): T30, Bella Lopez, 99-100—199; T34, Giselle Perez Hernandes 106-99—205; 49, Willow Tous, 107-116—223; 65, Kaia Eikenberry, 154-144—298.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry