One thing that avid golfers in the Pacific Northwest know is to be ready to play in any kind of weather.
Led by senior Mollie Johnsen, Redmond High girls golf team defeated rival Eastlake 163-138.5 at the 4A Kingco championships earlier this week. The Mustangs took home a fifth consecutive district title after mastering a very wet, cold and blustery Snohomish Golf Course.
“It was really hard to stay dry,” said head Redmond golf coach Jake Crowley. “We had the girls bring extra towels, gloves, rain gear, umbrellas … trying to get them into a routine where they could keep their hands dry.”
This sort of determination to overcome adverse conditions has been proven time and time again by the perennial golf powerhouse, having reeled off 57 consecutive wins in 4A Kingco matches.
“It’s the culture established in prior years,” said the second-year coach, explaining the program’s success. “Kids love to play the game, they stay late at practice, we put them in a lot of opportunities and they’re all on board for extra tournaments.”
Crowley went on to describe the “building process” that goes on when the eight freshmen and seven sophomore golfers watch the dedication and success of the team leaders and want to continue the cycle, developing their games and eventually blossoming as junior and senior golfers.
One of those leaders is Johnsen, who shot consistent rounds of 74 and 75 during the tournament, finishing second to her good friend Darcie Richmond of Bothell.
“She’s a very experienced player, walks with a lot of confidence and is very organized on the course,” Crowley said of Johnsen. “She never wavers from her game plan, and shows unbelievable poise under pressure.”
The feel-good story of the week had to be the one starring Redmond junior Kelly O’Donnell, who could have easily given up after posting a first-round 91 and a miserable 49 on the front nine of the final round. She made the turn well off the pace to be one of the top 13 golfers that would earn a berth to next week’s state tournament at Sudden Valley Golf and Country Club in Bellingham, but O’Donnell never gave up. She ended up posting the best back nine of anyone in the field on Wednesday, a three-over-par 39, which enabled her to jump five spots to 12th on the leaderboard and make the cut by two shots.
“That’s the motif of our team,” said Crowley of O’Donnell’s effort. “They don’t quit, don’t get down on themselves.”
Johnsen also provided a light moment for the team on Wednesday as she nearly aced the par-3 11th hole, sticking her tee shot to within two feet. She missed the short birdie putt, only to come back on the next hole and drain a 35-foot birdie on a rain-soaked green.
“That’s the irony of golf,” Crowley said with a chuckle.
The team’s overwhelming success makes parting with graduating seniors like Johnsen, team captain Taylor Conway and all-Kingco golfer Chelsea Smith that much more difficult, as witnessed during the team’s “Senior Night.” The team’s 23 golfers and over 30 parents and coaches attended the event, held after play concluded on Tuesday.
“Senior night last night was really emotional, there were definitely some tears flowing,” said Crowley. “Many great freshmen see [the seniors] and will try to emulate them. I already see parts of them in the graduating seniors … you’re gonna miss them, but their legacy will never be forgotten.”