At last year’s state tournament, the Bear River girls golf team finished in ninth place, led by a core of sophomore players that made them one of the youngest teams in the tournament.
This time around, with another year of experience under their belts, those same Bears improved to seventh place after playing on Wednesday and Thursday, May 15-16, at East Bay Golf Course in Provo.
Bear River shot 744 as a team overall, a significant improvement over the 770 they shot at the state championship last year at Sunbrook Golf Course in St. George. Fellow Region 12 competitors Ridgeline captured the state title with a team score of 662.
“We proved that we can go down there and play with anybody,” Bear River Head Coach Jim Thomas said. “It was a really good experience for them.”
Junior Rheagen Hartfiel shot 163 over the course of both days to lead the Bears and tie for ninth place individually. After opening with an 82 on Wednesday, Hartfiel saved the best for last, shooting an 81 on Thursday. It was her lowest score of the season in 4A competition.
Macy Newman, also a junior, turned in solid scores of 92 and 95 for a two-day total of 188 that put her in 25th place individually.
Sophomore Morgan Rose was third for the Bears with a 196, including a 92 on Wednesday that was her best score of the year. Rose ended up in a tie for 39th in the individual standings.
Junior Brook Stevenson rounded out the Bears’ team score, improving by eight strokes on Thursday to shoot 96 after coming in at 104 on Wednesday. Her even 200 placed her 44th overall.
Junior Makensy Thompson and senior Kenzie Lee, the other two Bears who made it to the state tournament, carded two-day scores of 222 and 224, respectively.
The Bears were one stroke ahead of Lehi in sixth place after Wednesday’s round, but the Pioneers’ Lila Galea’i shot a tournament-best round of 68 on Thursday to single-handedly move her team ahead of Bear River.
Galea’i pulled away from Ridgeline’s Alexis Wilson on Thursday to win the individual state championship by nine strokes with an overall score of 138. Wilson, who dominated Region 12 play all season long, shot 147 to take second place individually, while Park City’s Grace Donahue rounded out the podium with a 150.
The Riverhawks, led by Wilson, won every tournament in Region 12 this season, and validated that sweep by taking the state title at 13 strokes better than second-place Park City. Desert Hills, which had won the previous nine state titles, finished third this time around.
The Riverhawks had three players in the top 20 individually, with Mak Tenhoeve and Alyssa Buist joining Wilson in that category, and a fourth, Sara Fujimoto, who missed the top 20 by one stroke. It was that balance, on top of Wilson’s stellar play, that propelled Ridgeline to the team title.
“Our girls were happy for them,” Thomas said. “It doesn’t make us feel bad at all that we were second to them every week (in region play).”
With Wilson graduating this year, Hartfiel immediately becomes the favorite for Region 12 player of the year next season. Hartfiel, Newman, Stevenson and Thompson will all be seniors, and should be strong contenders for the region team title.
“We’re still young, and we’re going to bring back most of our best players,” Thomas said. “I’m very excited for what we’re going to see next year.”