Sports

Girls golf is on par

By Matt Phelps' email='Matt.Phelps@mi-reporter.com

The Mercer Island High School girls golf team has been on a steady rise during recent years. The team's seven victories last year tied the school record for the program and the team sent three golfers to state, along with an alternate.

A team can't just be good in girls golf in 3A KingCo, they have to be amazing to win the league title.

"Our biggest weakness is that we have to play in KingCo," said Mercer Island girls golf head coach Don Papasedero. "I think if we were in any other league in the greater Seattle area we would be the odds-on favorite."

One reason for that optimism is seniors Shawn Kelly and Rachel Smith. Both players had great seasons last year, as both made it to state.

"Shawn should contend for the state title," said Papasedero. "But Rachel beat Shawn down the stretch last year, so anything can happen."

Papasedero said that he expects a few of his girls to be ranked in the top 20 in the state.

"Smith and Buchanan have been to state before," said the coach. "It is quite an accomplishment. Of the (senior) girls that played at state last year, 13 went on to play golf at the university level."

Junior Ariel Holden and sophomore Lindsey Buchanan will round out the top four golfers on the team, giving the program one of its best lineups since Papasedero began coaching the team.

"Buchanan was our third-best scorer last year and was 16th in KingCo," said Papasedero. Those achievements came during her freshman year with four state golfers.

Buchanan had a tough postseason, though, and did not make it out of the medalist tournament to advance to districts.

"She is just a wonderful worker," said Papasedero.

Seniors Whitney Tomita, Alexandra Higgins and Jen Morrison are the team captains this season.

"We have a lot of veteran experience and leadership," said Papasedero.

The Islanders will have a toughschedule with Interlake and Bellevue in the regular season and Overlake, Forest Ridge and Redmond on the overall schedule.

The Islanders will also change courses this season as they say good bye to Tall Chief and play home matches at Mount Si golf course.

"It is like going from heroin to aspirin," said Papasedero. "We will have a better chance to score and it is more challenging."

The trip to Mount Si is just as far away but takes less commuting time as it is all freeway driving. Tall Chief is significantly off I-90.

With the top-four golfers set, Papasedero will look to strengthen the top eight with some new faces.

Freshmen Kelly Ogishima, Tracey Tomlinson and Liz Lee could be big contributors to the team.

With the three strong freshman, Papasedero foresees good teams to come.

"We really have a bright future," said Papasedero.

Info Box Head coach: Don Papasedero (fifth year)

Last season's record: 5-4 in league, 7-4 overall (three golfers and an alternate to state).

Key golfers: Sr. Shawn Kelly, Sr. Rachel Smith, Jr. Ariel Holden and So.

Lindsey Buchanan.

Top newcomers: Sr. Whitney Tomita, Fr. Kelly Ogishima, Fr. Tracey Tomlinson, Fr. Liz Lee.

Key losses: Katie Painter, Kendra Buchanan and Ashley Buss.

Key meets: Interlake, Bellevue.

First league meet: 3:15 p.m. Monday, March 21 at Skyline (Plateau golf course).

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