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GIRLS GOLF: St. Mary's rises to the top

Looking too far ahead has been something the St. Mary’s girls golf team has tried to avoid this spring.

Winners of the past three state championships at the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A level, the Crusaders have always known where they want to be once the middle of May arrives but have diligently worked to not put the cart before the horse.

That focus was on display again Tuesday at Rogue Valley Country Club, where St. Mary’s paid no mind to its 123-stroke advantage heading into Day 2 of the District 3 regional tournament and saw three of its scorers post even better totals than they did Monday.

After posting a 320 on Monday, the Crusaders backed that up with a 326 Tuesday to easily repeat as regional champions with a 646 total — 223 strokes ahead of runner-up Cascade Christian (869).

“We kind of hammered it home these two days that this is just a stepping stone for where we want to be next week,” said St. Mary’s coach Kevin Klabunde, alluding to the state tournament Monday and Tuesday at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond. “They took it seriously, they practiced well and they really put themselves out there and really came through.”

Also earning a repeat was St. Mary’s sophomore Baylee Hammericksen, who is the defending state champion. Hammericksen led a parade of Crusaders at the top of the leaderboard by backing up her first-round 73 with a 3-under-par 70 in the second round for a 143 total. She won last year’s regional at the Running Y Ranch Resort with a 144.

“It’s great being able to defend something that you did last year,” said Hammericksen. “It’s a good feeling being able to back up all the hard work with some good results but I’m mostly focused on what’s coming up next week. Having a win going into next week is a huge confidence thing, as well as golf swing thing, but I’m trying to stay as focused as I can on the big tournament of the year, and that’s the state tournament.”

Monday’s round was a little ho-hum for Hammericksen, who finished at even par, but she was able to dial it in Tuesday to post a tournament-best score that very well could have been lower were it not for a putt here and there.

“She was knocking the ball pretty close,” said Klabunde. “Her iron play was very good. She’s very tenacious, she’s very accurate and she hardly misses a fairway.”

Finishing as the individual runner-up for a fourth straight season was St. Mary’s senior Kaylee Wu, who had rounds of 76 and 75 for a 151 total. Wu finished just ahead of freshman teammate Riley Hammericksen, whose second-round 74 was five shots better than her opening round for a 153.

Wu had a string of 16 straight pars before tiring a bit and finishing with a pair of bogeys at the end, while the younger Hammericksen found herself a couple shots under par before suffering a hiccup of her own down the stretch.

Abby Beck of Mazama qualified for state as an individual by finishing fourth at 196, while Cascade Christian senior Tess Homeier led her team to a state-qualifying effort by finishing fifth with a 198.

The top three teams advance to state, with Sweet Home gaining the No. 3 spot (1,012).

St. Mary’s No. 4 scorer, senior Jenny Oh, finished sixth with a 199 to round out her team’s scoring after posting a personal-best 92 in the first round. Cascade Christian senior Kim Brown was right behind her with a 205 after joining Homeier in posting a 98 in the second round.

With Monday’s round of 320 standing as the team’s second-best score of the year — St. Mary’s shot 302 earlier at Running Y — and the team’s ability to back that up with steady play Tuesday, Klabunde said he’s excited for what’s to come next week.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “You never can say, ‘Yes, we’re going to win,’ but I like our chances.”

TEAM SCORES: St. Mary’s 646, Cascade Christian 869, Sweet Home 1012, Bandon 1071, Marshfield 1082, Lakeview 1125, Cottage Grove 1184, Hidden Valley 1363.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 5): 1, Baylee Hammericksen, St. Mary’s, 73-70—143; 2, Kaylee Wu, St. Mary’s, 76-75—151; 3, Riley Hammericksen, St. Mary’s, 79-74—153; 4, Abby Beck, Mazama, 94-102—196; 5, Tess Homeier, Cascade Christian, 100-98—198.

ST. MARY’S (320-326—646): Baylee Hammericksen 73-70—143, Kaylee Wu 76-75—151, Riley Hammericksen 79-74—153, Jenny Oh 92-107—199.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (443-426—869): Tess Homeier 100-98—198, Kim Brown 107-98—205, Bryton Plankenhorn 109-115—224, Gabi Philp 127-115—242.

PHOENIX (INC.): Giselle Perez-Hernandez 115-138—253, Kaia Eikenberry 131-108—239.

ROGUE RIVER (INC): Samantha Peterson 152-133—285.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSt Mary’s Kaylee Wu lines up for a put on the 7th green.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune St Mary’s Kaylee Wu watches her ball during a put on the 7th green.