DIVISION I GOLF: Cougars within striking distance after first day

Coronado’s girls golf team has been a top-three state finisher in each of the last two seasons.

The Cougars, who are looking for their first state championship, found themselves right in the thick of things once again after the first 18 holes of the Division I girls state tournament in Reno.

After putting up a team score of 342 on Monday, Coronado trails two-time defending champion Spanish Springs by seven strokes. McQueen is third with a 347, followed by Bishop Manogue (380) and Bishop Gorman (385). The tournament concludes Tuesday at Somersett Golf and Country Club.

“We didn’t play great, but really nobody did,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said. “The scores were all up across the board. If we get some support from the back end, we’ll be right there tomorrow. It’s a nice spot to be in all things considered. It’s there for the taking.”

Freshman Gabrielle DeNunzio was Coronado’s top golfer with an 11-over-par 83.

“She really held her own,” Sawaia said. “She played with the 18-hole leader of the golf tournament and kind of held it together and put a nice score together with the first group. For her to be there and be a freshman, I was really proud of her. She’s really been coming on great.”

Natalie Yamamoto is eighth with an 84, and Ashley Lung is tied for 10th with an 87 for the Cougars. Teammate Samantha Penor finished tied for 13th with an 88.

Spanish Springs’s Katrina Prendergast holds the lead after carding a 72. Green Valley’s Mercedes Khumnark was the top golfer from Southern Nevada with an 82 and is tied for fifth place.

Despite shooting well above their season average, the Cougars have another day to make up the manageable deficit.

“We didn’t play our best golf, but we’re only seven strokes back,” Sawaia said. “It’s not an insurmountable margin by any means. I hope we just adjust better to the weather and the greens. It was tough conditions out there. I thought we shot ourselves out of it, quite frankly. It didn’t look good for a while. But they feel like they’ve been given a second chance because all of the scores were high.”

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