Kylee Knudsen records a second-round 110 to place ninth in the individual leaderboard
After Tuesday’s first round, the White Pine girls golf team was eight strokes back of second place at the Class 2A State Championship at Toiyabe Golf Club in New Washoe City.
Furthermore, five of the six schools competing were only separated by 36 strokes heading into Wednesday’s second and final day.
“We had to have a good day the next day,” head coach Tami Church said.
However, the third-year head coach had the confidence in them to execute.
“I think the girls knew what they had to do and go out and do it,” Church said. “And all I told them was just to improve your score from yesterday. We got this.”
And for Church’s team, all four players that were used in the scoring, all lowered their stroke total from the previous day.
On the par-72 course, Kylee Knudsen led the way. After recording a 132 on Tuesday, she followed that up with 110, dropping more than 20 shots.
McKenna Barney, who shot 146 on day one, dropped 10 strokes to 136 the next day. Payton Walker dropped nine strokes to 138 on Wednesday and Macayla Bybee dropped seven strokes to 145 to round out the scoring team.
“The girls just stepped up and got it done,” Church said.
However, on Wednesday before the conclusion of play, Church had to return to White Pine early and did not expect her team to finish as the runner-up due to a couple of players who struggled.
Then, her phone rang from her assistant coach, Janet Walker.
“I was kind of in shock when Janet called,” Church said. “We were halfway to Fallon and she called and said we did get second.
“I said you got to be kidding me. I’m not going to believe it until I see a picture.”
As the Ladycats finished second in the team category, Knudsen placed ninth in the individual leaderboard that was fueled by her final round 110, which was the sixth-best round of the day.
Church said seeing one of her players place better than tenth went a long way in the team scoring format.
“That was really nice,” Church said of her leading golfer. “I mean, she had a bad day. I haven’t seen Kylee golf a 132 in two years. It was like, ‘Wow.’ After that, I was pretty defeated. That first day going, ‘oh, well, I thought we had a shot.’ And then the next day. when Kylee posted 110, I thought, ‘oh, maybe.’ It’s like a roller coaster up and down. You’re watching them come in, just hoping for the best.
“It really came down to Kylee shooting really well that last day.”
In addition to Knudsen shining in the biggest moment, Church was also surprised by the performance of Payton Walker, who was able to place 25th, just one spot behind McKenna Barney.
“For a freshman, I thought it was outstanding,” Church said of Payton Walker. “She always has such a great attitude. I mean, she just smiles and goes out there and plays the game. She’s relaxed, but she’s serious. She’s fun to watch.”
At 1,097 strokes in the team format, White Pine finished nine strokes ahead of Sierra Lutheran and 31 strokes ahead of familiar 2A East opponent Battle Mountain.
White Pine finished 389 strokes behind the state champions, North Tahoe, who was fueled by a first-day team score of 397. North Tahoe also had three of its players lead the scoring.
A key part to the Ladycats’ success this season was the availability of Janet Walker, who was coaching the players, especially during the time Church was still in the classroom.
“I really want to give kudos to Janet Walker,” Church said. “She stepped up to help because I had so many golfers and I couldn’t leave school until 4:30. As soon as it starts getting dark at about six, we limit the time, so she stepped up. She was starting with the girls at 3:45 and 4:00, so they were getting in more practice, which is really nice.”
This squad at White Pine goes down as a program setter for years to come with a regional championship and a runner-up finish at the state tournament.
Church said her team is looking to keep the energy heading into next year with new and younger players to continue the longevity of the program.
“We just need to keep the momentum up and the school is pretty excited about golf,” Church said. “I’ve been talking, the more we can talk it up and hype it up, the more we can get some more girls to come out and play.
“Somehow, I got to get to the middle school and take the girls down and walk around with their trophy and talk about golf or something. That’s where the interest comes from.”
- Kylee Knudsen 132 110 – 242
- McKenna Barney 146 136 – 282
- Payton Walker 147 138 – 285
- Macayla Bybee 152 145 – 297
- Faith Ellis 143 162 – 305
Riley Taylor N/S 168
- North Tahoe 397 592 – 789
- White Pine 568 529 – 1097
- Sierra Lutheran 560 546 – 1106
- Battle Mountain 565 563 – 1128
- Wells 596 555 – 1151
- Virginia City 576 578 – 1154