SUNNYSIDE — Sunnyside High School sophomore Kaycee Hazzard was taking part in the 4A girls golf State Championships at Hangman Valley Golf Course in Spokane this past Tuesday and Wednesday.

“She will be the second girl to participate in the State tournament since Renee Visser in 2011,” Coach Ryan Cullen noted after last Wednesday’s District Tournament at Black Rock Creek Golf Course.

“It’s been a long time, and I’m super proud of Kaycee… she earned this,” he said.

At District, the team was led by senior Kiana Hellner-Gomez.

She was among five to qualify for the tournament, with the other three being Hazzard, sophomore Jaki Schmahl, freshman Jessa Hellner-Gomez and freshman Lily Potter.

“I knew we had a chance to bring a girl to State, depending on how we played,” Cullen said.

“All shot pretty well,” he noted.

Hazzard, however, had her best game, carding 100 for fourth place overall.

“Kaycee played lights out. She had a lot of ups and downs this season, but it was finally nice for her to shoot a score of where she should be consistently,” Cullen said.

Hellner-Gomez was a few strokes shy of making the State cut.

“It would have been awesome to take both to play,” the coach said.

“Without Kiana’s leadership this year, we wouldn’t have finished where we did,” he said.

The season was long and chaotic, Cullen said.

Snow on the course at Black Rock, the home course for teams from Sunnyside, Sunnyside Christian, Grandview, Mabton and Prosser, kept teams from starting practices two weeks later than they were scheduled.

The teams adjusted with two and three matches a week, Cullen said.

There were eight new golfers on the Sunnyside squad, including freshmen Jessa Hellner-Gomez, Potter, Mackenzie Chambers, Sara Garcia, Alyna Ramirez and Kendall Rasmussen, as well as junior Josse Prieto and Schmahl, a sophomore.

“The team was able to break the 500 team mark twice this year, scoring 489 and a 484, in two league pods,” Cullen said, stating the Lady Grizzlies have a bright future, and he couldn’t be happier with how well the season turned out.

Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 114 or email JMcGhan@sunnysidesun.com

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