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Golf | Long-time friends lead Bainbridge to districts
Entering her freshman year at Bainbridge High School, Peyton Lunzer had never played a hole of competitive golf.
Four years later, Lunzer is serving as a senior co-captain alongside Anna Bourland, leading a team that is poised to repeat last season’s state tournament success.
“Anna’s the one who got me started playing, so Anna’s always been the one who I’ve kind of set my eyes on,” Lunzer said. “Anna putts every day, so I’m going to putt every day. Whenever I didn’t want to play, if I was tired or it was raining, Anna was the one who would say, ‘Get out there, we’re practicing right now.’”
Bourland and Lunzer are the team’s only two upperclassmen entering Monday’s SeaKing District Tournament. The team has a wealth of post-season experience – Julia Gross, Jasmine Shattuck and Maddy Devlin all competed in the district tournament last year. The event will be the first for freshman Annika van Houte.
Bourland, who has been the team’s top player since her sophomore year, placed a team-high eighth at the 3A state tournament last year. The team finished second, and fourth the previous two years.
Bainbridge has already met its first goal of qualifying all six of its players in the district tournament, coach Steve Nielsen said. The next step is to qualify all six players for state.
For Lunzer, who didn’t pick up golf until a month before her freshman year tryouts, her individual game improved through teamwork.
“My game was bad – my handicap was, like, 100,” she said. “But I learned a lot from my friend Anna, and I came back my sophomore year and I dropped 20 strokes.”
Prior to the Suncadia Tournament in April, the team hadn’t officially convened since league competition in October.
Since Nielsen is unable to coach during the offseason, it was up to the captains to assemble the team and practice.
“Since we’re a team you still have to think of everyone together,” Bourland said, “but it’s also like a game also for yourself.”
The team regrouped to win Suncadia for the second time in four years.
“They worked very hard in the winter even though we had such lousy weather,” Nielsen sad. “The other 21 schools we played in Suncadia had been coming right out of their seasons and these girls hadn’t played in a practice situation since last October, but they worked together over the winter and won the tournament.”
The Spartans will need to continue their springtime success at next week’s district tournament.
Only 19 players from the 40-player tournament will advance to state.
Defending champion Holy Names has also qualified six players to districts.
“They’ve got everybody back,” Nielsen said. “They’re going to be tough to beat.”
Even though both team and individual champions will be crowned at the 3A state meet May 25-26, the team title remains Bainbridge’s focus.
“Everyone has their strength and what they’re good at,” Lunzer said. “I’m really small. My competitors usually have 50 yards on me. I’ve had to come to accept that I can’t hit it as far but I can play my own game.”