SUNRISE GOLF: Coronado sets state record to claim region title

It was clear almost from the shotgun start which school was going to claim the Class 4A Sunrise Region championship, and it turned into a historic performance.

The Coronado girls golf team broke the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s postseason record Monday by finishing 6-under-par as a team, and the Cougars rolled to their fourth consecutive region title at the Chimera Golf Club. Coronado had a team score of 282. Green Valley finished second with 356, and Las Vegas was third at 541.

“It doesn’t happen by accident,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said. “It wasn’t like they started in August. It hadn’t stopped since last October, and it has to be that to shoot that kind of score.”

The two-time defending state champions never were in danger of a close meet. Just six holes in, the Cougars held a 17-stroke lead over Green Valley and led by 78 over Las Vegas. At the halfway point, that lead extended to 35 over the Gators and 127 over the Wildcats. Coronado then turned it into another gear on the back nine, and won by 76 strokes.

All six Coronado girls finished in the top seven. Sophomore Victoria Estrada nabbed medalist honors with a 4-under-par 68. Estrada had a run of four birdies on five holes on the back nine.

“What’s even more impressive than the 6 under is the scores throughout,” Sawaia said. “That’s what our strength is — it could be a combination of any four girls at any time.”

As much of a blowout as the team score was, the individuals kept it close until the end. Estrada, Coronado’s Ashley Lung and Green Valley’s Katherine Kares each shot par on the front nine. Coronado’s Gabby DeNunzio and Sami Penor both were 1-over.

Estrada and Penor started to pull away on the back. Estrada birdied back-to-back holes, and Penor birdied her 11th hole before sinking an eagle putt on her 13th to tie her with Estrada for the lead at 2 under.

“I chipped it and I thought it was going to go over but at the last minute it dropped in,” Penor said of the eagle. “I wasn’t sure what was happening.”

The Coronado teammates were tied through 14 holes. Penor parred the next two holes, and Estrada had two birdies in the next three holes to take the lead.

“It was a beautiful day, and I had a really good attitude going in,” Estrada said. “I just played my game today and I’m really happy.”

Penor finished second at 70, and was followed by DeNunzio and Lung, who both shot 72. Kares finished fifth at 73. Kylie Keyer and Crystal Quero, whose scores didn’t count toward Coronado’s team total, tied for sixth at 77.

Justin Emerson can be reached at Follow on Twitter: @J15Emerson

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