Bellarmine Prep golfers make history with two state titles

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
The Bellarmine Prep girls golf team set a record May 25 by winning its seventh straight state championship. The two-day tournament was held at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Photo: T.L. Bender The Bellarmine Prep girls golf team set a record May 25 by winning its seventh straight state championship. The two-day tournament was held at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Photo: T.L. Bender

TACOMA – Bellarmine Prep won two state titles and claimed a bit of history at the 4A state golf competitions May 24-25 in the Tri-Cities.

The girls team brought home its seventh consecutive championship, while the boys team earned its second consecutive state title. “We made history with the longest win streak,” said Mark Bender, coach of the Bellarmine girls. The girls team has won 10 titles, he added.

The Bellarmine teams each sent six golfers to the tournaments — the girls competed at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, the boys at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland. Half the golfers entered in each tournament were eliminated after the first day of competition.

When all six of the Bellarmine girls qualified for the second day, “we were pretty confident,” said senior Tessa George. The team of George, Clair Hill, Morgan Bentley, Serena Lee, Molly O’Brien and Maddy Kokich combined for 135 points to win over Camas, with 91.5 points.

George — who started playing golf when she was 5 (and whose father, Steve, coaches the boys team) — marked her fourth year as a member of the state championship team. She finished 17th individually, shooting 77 the first day and 80 the second. The holes at Sun Willows were a lot longer than other courses where she has competed, George said, but “it was pretty wide open so you couldn’t get into trouble.”

Bellarmine boys golf teamThe Bellarmine Prep boys golf team won its second straight state championship May 25 at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland. Photo: Tom Bordeaux

On the boys side, Bellarmine’s win of 122 points to Eastlake’s 90 points was the second straight state title for the team of RJ Manke, Joe Highsmith, Joe Allen, Jordan Lee, Collin Bordeaux and Joe Lyon.

Four of the six made it into the final round, which included the extra drama of a four-way tie that included Manke and Highsmith (who each shot rounds of 74 and 71). They entered a sudden-death playoff, with Highsmith and another golfer eliminated after the first playoff hole. Manke battled it out with Carl Underwood of Richland High School for four more holes. Although he lost, “it was fun,” Manke said.

George isn’t the only member of Bellarmine’s golf teams who started playing young. Manke said he has been playing for as long as he can remember, and Lyon started playing around the age of 6.

“I get a lot of kids who’ve grown up playing golf,” Bender said. They typically start competing in private competitions when they’re 9 years old and tournament-savvy by the time they reach high school, he said.

While the Bellarmine seniors are moving on, their teammates will be busying golfing this summer and competing in tournaments through the Washington Junior Golf Association, preparing for next year’s high school season.