Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 1, 2013

Big leap for Paly girls at CCS

Xie wins individual title while first-year Vikings claim team golf championship

by Keith Peters

Palo Alto girls' golf coach Doyle Knight was a marshall for one of the final groups at the Central Coast Section Championships on Tuesday at Rancho Canada (East Course) Golf Club in Carmel Valley.

Thus, Knight was out of touch with most of his team during what would turn out to be a historic day for the Vikings.

"Throughout the round I heard the girls were playing well, but every time I saw one of them they would tell me they were playing poorly," he said.

So, Knight had no idea where his team finished as he trudged into the club house after his foursome finally finished.

"As I was walking up to the club house the girls came running out telling me we had won," Knight said. "At first I didn't believe them, and when I saw the score posted on the wall, chills went through me. I knew they could do it."

Despite being in only their first year as a team and having lost to rival Gunn in last week's SCVAL Tournament, the Vikings compiled a score of 391 and captured the section championship. Paly junior Michelle Xie led the historic day by earning medalist honors with a 3-under 69.

St. Francis was second with 395 strokes while Gunn was third with 412. All three teams qualified for the 14th annual NCGA/CIF High School Girls Golf Championships at Spring Creek Golf and Country Club in Ripon on Monday.

"I knew we had a very good shot," Knight said. "All season long I watched team scores and I figured it would come down to Gunn, St. Francis and us for the championship — unless we all had bad days."

As it turned out, Gunn and St. Francis had good days but Paly a great one.

"Our captain, Annie Chen, sat down with the girls the night before and had a captains' meeting with them," Knight explained. "I wasn't there, not sure what was said; just let my captain do what I feel a good captain should do . . . lead the team."

Chen, a senior, shot 78, senior Audrey Horn and freshman Emily Hwang each carded a 79 and freshman Elise Kiya provided the final score that counted with an 86 as the Vikings averaged 78.2 strokes per scorer. Paly was the only team to have four players under 80.

"I'm not sure how many birdies were made or spectacular shots were hit, I just know the girls came together and played very well when they needed to," said Knight.

Xie led the Vikings with three birdies and no bogeys during her excellent round. She started on the 10th hole and went 1-under with a birdie on the 277-yard par-4 11th. She picked up another stroke on the 416-yard par-5 15th and got No. 3 on the 316-yard par 4 eighth hole.

"We should have the core of our team back next year," Knight said. "Titles are hard to come by . . . we are all enjoying this moment."

Gunn earned its second straight NorCal berth, but missed out on medalist honors as defending champ Anna Zhou shot 75 —seven shots off last year's low score. A double-bogey on the 328-yard par-4 ninth hole dropped Zhou to 3-over on the day and into a tie for 11th.

Gunn senior Jayshree Sarathy helped earn another day at the course by shooting 78, teammate Lianna McFarlane-Connelly shot 82 while tying for 31st. Gunn's Tiffany Yang shot 84 and Sandra Herchen carded a 93.

Castilleja finished sixth in the team race with a 426 and junior Chloe Sales was just two strokes from qualifying for NorCals after shooting a 75. Castilleja's junior twins, Nicole and Danielle Mitchell, each shot 85, Paris Wilkerson came home with an 87 and Ellie Zales shot 94.

Menlo School's Jessie Rong shot 76 and tied for 14th overall, Menlo-Atherton's Abbey Pederson and Naomi Lee each shot 80 and Sacred Heart Prep's Jessica Koenig finished with an 89.

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