Sports

Hebner caps career in style

"Few Bainbridge athletes have recorded as many performances as Nicole Hebner. She played three-plus years of varsity volleyball, four years of basketball, and four years of golf.Given that volume, it's particularly remarkable that she saved her best single performance for last.In her final appearance as a Spartan, Hebner fired her best-ever round of golf, a three-over par 75, on the final day of the state 3A tournament. That score vaulted her from far back in the pack to fifth place.The Spartan boys were less fortunate. Playing at Bellingham CC, Joe Lanza and Ryan Mahoney both shot opening 79s on Monday, good enough to move them into Tuesday's second round. But Lanza could do no better than 80 on Tuesday, and Mahoney had to settle for 86, putting them 37th and 48th in the boys 3A tourney.Hebner opened the tournament with an 87 Monday at the Lake Padden course in Bellingham. Although that score was good enough to make the cut, it put Hebner 15 strokes off the lead.Hebner was actually encouraged after that round.It was one of my best state tournament scores, she said. She told coach Marnie Snyder that she wanted to finish in the top 40. But Snyder raised the bar. Why not finish in the top 10? Snyder said.So the next morning, before the second round, Hebner went to the practice range and hit approach shots. And it paid off with the best round of her career, which tied for the low round of the day at the state tournament.Everything was just working perfectly for me on Tuesday, Hebner said. I never got in trouble. I was in the fairway. And when I missed the green, I was able to get close enough to putt for a par.Her round featured 11 pars and two birdies. One birdie came on a short par 3 when she hit a 9-iron to 10 feet and made what she called a big curving putt. The second came on a par 4, when she hit an enormous drive, then chipped to within two feet for a birdie.For Hebner, the state-tournament performance was a continuation of her season-long golf excellence. The senior was the team captain and top seed all year on the unbeaten Spartan team. Her average score was 84, Snyder said, and her biggest asset was her long game.She's a fabulous athlete, very strong, Snyder said. She was the longest driver of anyone in the state tournament. When we won the Port Angeles invitational tournament earlier this year, she won the longest drive contest there.Hebner's grand finale ended a remarkable high school athletic career. She won four basketball letters as a guard, and was an integral part of the 1999 Spartan state-championship team.She was a very, very steady player, coach Penny Geinger said. She was so reliable that at the end of a tight game like the state championship game, I had her in.Hebner said that state-championship game was the highlight of her Spartan career. Playing in the last five minutes of the state championship game and winning was pretty special, she said.Another time was last season when I tied the school record for three-point shots with five, and scored 21, and we won by three.Volleyball was Hebner's fall sport. After playing mostly for the JV team as a freshman, Hebner moved into the varsity lineup her sophomore year as a setter. The next year, she moved to a hitter position, but came back to setter for her senior year, and was also selected team captain.Hebner's plans for next year are uncertain. She said that after her state tournament showing, she has received calls from golf coaches, and may find herself on a golf team next year.While Hebner's loss leaves a big hole in the Spartan golf team for next year, plenty of talent will be returning. Sophomore Katja Trygg was this year's number-two player. She didn't get to go to the state tournament because the Olympic League 3A schools only get two players, Snyder said. But she would easily have made the first-round cut at state if she had gone.Behind Trygg is junior Angela Asher, who was a consistent low-90s shooter this year. After that, Snyder had a talented bunch of players who were just starting out, Christine Schwager, Fab Reyzeyat and Tiffany Johnson.I'll be beating the bushes next year to find girls who are interested and encourage them to come out and give golf a try, Snyder said. We can work with them and make them golfers."

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