The Mercer Island girls golf team lost for the first time all season in KingCo play during the final day of the regular season Monday, 227 strokes to 232, as Skyline took the league title. A decline in its team score during the final weeks of the regular season made Islander coach Don Papasedero nervous heading into the final meet.
“We haven’t played really well but I am a strong believer in team,” said Papasedero. “It was a record setting year but we gave away some cheap ones today.”
Coming into the meet with the Spartans, Mercer Island’s team average was more than 10 strokes better thank their opponent’s.
Leading the way for the Islanders against Skyline was medalist Kirby Thornton with 40 strokes on the par 36 course.
The Islanders have never finished an in-league schedule undefeated and despite the loss, the team set a school record for wins during the regular season with an 11-1 record. Its previous record for wins was nine. Mercer Island tied that mark with a 232-256 stroke victory over Mount Si on April 19. But the team just kept winning, despite the team score never approaching its season-low of 216 strokes.
“It has been more of a team thing than individual players,” said Papasedero.
The Islanders’ 228-247 victory over Cascade broke the school record on April 24 and the team just kept adding on to its total.
Thursday the Islanders blasted rival Newport by 30 strokes, 232-262. Kirby Thornton lead the Mercer Island team with a score of 44 strokes to take medalist honors. Lindsay Chinn placed second overall by shooting a 10 over par 46.
“She is the most improved player we have this year,” said Papasedero. “She has been so consistent for us.”
Islander Tracey Tomlinson finished fourth overall on the day with a 47.
The biggest strength for Mercer Island this season has been the team average of the top six golfers during the season.
“They have been only been one or two strokes apart in their averages all season,” said Papasedero. “They are all really bunched together, around 44 or 45 strokes overall.”
One of the reasons that Papasedero gives is the move to a closer and challenging home course at Jackson Park on Beacon Hill in Seattle.
“That impact has been really significant,” said Papasedero. “Makes you wonder how we could have done the past few years if it could have happened sooner. We lost a lot of matches by just a few strokes.”
The program struggled to get into a closer home course for many years, even before Papasedero took over the program.
“They came together this year and stayed ahead of almost everyone. That is something that [former head coach Gary] Adrian would be proud of.”
The team will have to stay together next Monday as the post season tournaments begin with the 3A KingCo Medalist competition at Snohomish Golf Course.