Composed Green Valley squad undaunted by history

Plenty of history is in front of Green Valley’s girls golf team as the Division I state tournament tees off today at Wildcreek in Sparks.

The Gators have a chance to win their fourth straight state title, which would match the team’s dynasty from 1996 to 1999, and tie the program with Reno for the most state titles (nine).

Green Valley senior Alex Kaui has in her sights a third straight individual state title, a feat previously accomplished by only five players.

But the Gators are used to handling pressure well, and they don’t plan to be rattled when the stakes are at their highest.

“There’s not much pressure,” Kaui said. “I’m just looking for a really enjoyable week; that’s all I want. I just want to be happy. I want to enjoy every minute of it because I know it’s my senior year, and you’re supposed to enjoy every single day of it.

“I want our team to go out with a bang, especially because Sarah (Thomas) and I are seniors.”

Both the Division I and I-A state tournaments will be held today and Tuesday at Wildcreek.

Kaui, Thomas and sophomore Mercedes Khumnark have led another memorable season for the Gators. The trio swept the top three spots in last week’s Sunrise Region tournament at Tuscany, including a title-winning 7-under-par 65 from Kaui.

Green Valley coach Greg Murphy said Kaui, who has committed to Oklahoma, handles pressure with ease.

“The expectations we have on Alex, she always achieves them,” Murphy said. “For her to go out and do what she did (at region), you kind of count on that. It’s not a given, but she just has thrown up spectacular numbers for the last four years.

“She’s got a complete game. Her putting separates her from everybody. Her short game is phenomenal.”

Another key to the Gators edging Coronado 316-320 for the region title was sophomore Haley Merrill, who carded 105. She could prove crucial again at state.

Coronado should provide Green Valley another challenge. Arbor View and Bishop Gorman qualified from the Sunset Region, and McQueen and Spanish Springs will represent the Northern Region.

“It’s a two-day deal, and we’ve got to put our best forward like we did (at region),” Murphy said. “We know we’re going to have competition up there and we’ve got to bring our best if we’re going to repeat.”

Faith Lutheran is the heavy favorite in Division I-A, with college-bound seniors Brianna Becker (Hawaii) and Annie Freman (Santa Clara) leading the way.

The Crusaders won last week’s I-A Southern Region tournament by 87 strokes. Now they’ll pursue their first state title since taking the Class 3A crown in 2004.

“We have some unfinished business,” Faith Lutheran coach Mark Cheney said. “Our players have individual goals and how they’d like to finish, and we have a goal in terms of performing at our best and seeing if we can do that two days in a row.”

The Division III/IV state tournament will be held today and Tuesday at Eagle Valley East in Carson City.

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