DIVISION I GOLF: Cougars rally to claim first state title

It was the toughest golf course Coronado’s girls played on all season.

Add in the chilly Reno weather and a seven-stroke deficit headed into the final day, the Cougars found themselves as clear underdogs.

They quickly got back on track on the front nine at Somersett Golf and Country Club Tuesday and rallied to claim their first state title with a team score of 681, six strokes ahead of Spanish Springs. McQueen was third at 716, followed by Bishop Manogue (733) and Bishop Gorman (757).

“It went great,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said. “We’re state champs. We’re coming home with the Nevada state trophy, so it was a great trip. Overall, the course was very demanding but the girls stayed really patient. It was rewarding to see them get that trophy at the end of the day.”

After two consecutive top-three state finishes, Coronado finally broke through to dethrone two-time defending champion Spanish Springs in Reno. Coronado shot 339 on Tuesday, three strokes better its opening-round total. Spanish Springs shot 352 on Tuesday. Coronado quickly erased Spanish Springs’ seven-shot lead and led by eight strokes at the turn.

“They were determined today,” Sawaia said. “The girls just made up their mind that they wanted it. It doesn’t really matter how you win. To come back from being down seven shots was nice to see. Not only did we make up strokes, but we bettered our score from yesterday.”

Samantha Penor was tied for the best second-day score after carding a 6-over-par 78. The freshman finished fifth at 166 for Coronado.

“She played great,” Sawaia said. “She had a great front nine. That really kind of put a charge in us. By the time we turned, we were nine shots up.”

Natalie Yamamoto shot an 83 on the second day to finish sixth at 167, and Gabrielle DeNunzio was 10th with a 175 for Coronado. Teammate Ashley Lung was tied for 11th with a 176 for the Cougars.

Spanish Springs’s Katrina Prendergast was the medalist with a total score of 154, despite shooting an 82 on Tuesday. McQueen’s Alice Duan and Michelle Duan tied for second with a 160, and Green Valley’s Mercedes Khumnark was fourth with a 165. Khumnark, the Sunrise Region champion, was the top finisher from Southern Nevada. Sunset champ Allison Weiderman of Shadow Ridge was 14th at 178.

Sawaia captured his first title in 21 years of coaching girls golf in Clark County School District.

“I’ve been really lucky over the years,” he said. “I’ve had some good individual players, but we always came across those good Green Valley, (Bishop) Gorman and Cimarron-Memorial teams. It’s really hard to win (state titles). But starting the year, I knew this was going to be something special. They all play for each other. Their work ethic was the best for any of the teams I’ve ever been a part of.”

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