WINNEMUCCA – The Elko girls golf team entered the regular-season finale of the Division 3A North with seven victories in seven tournaments.
Better make it eight.
The Lady Indians began Tuesday’s event in Fernley on top, exactly where they finished.
A year after winning every league tournament of the season but one on its way to a 3A North championship, Elko booked back-to-back league titles and ran the table.
Elko ripped off a remarkable season-best 352, which was much needed due to Lowry’s season-best 392 for second place.
Spring Creek moved back into the top-three with a team score of 405, followed in fourth by Fallon’s 427.
The Lady Buckaroos finished the year-end standings in second, edging the Lady Spartans by one point – the difference-maker being Tuesday’s round – as the teams entered the final tournament tied for second place.
Host Fernley rounded out the top-5 Tuesday with a card of 432.
Elko, Lowry and Spring Creek will represent the North in the 3A state tournament.
The Lady Indians did not just shoot the lights out as a team, senior and reigning MVP Annika Criss staked her claim to a share of another MVP honor.
Criss finished with a ridiculous one-over par 73 on Tuesday, winning her fourth individual tournament of the season with the best round of her career.
“Annika was phenomenal. She shot an even-par 37 on the front and was one-over par 36 on the back,” said Elko coach Jeff Sarbacker. “She finished the round with 29 putts.”
Lowry’s Tatyana Carlson placed second, 11 strokes off the lead with an 84.
Carlson and Criss each won four events during the season, creating a tie for the MVP award.
When the tiebreaker for lowest average came into play?
Gridlocked once again.
Criss needed every stroke of her 11-stroke lead Tuesday, as she and Carlson each averaged 82.8 strokes for the season – finishing the year with an identical amount of swings, fittingly earning Co-MVP honors.
Elko sophomore Caresse Basaraba cracked into the 80s and finished with a career-best 89 for third place.
She was named a 1st-Team All-League golfer, finishing the season with an average of 99.9 strokes per round.
Lowry’s Angelina Martinez took fourth with a round of 92, and Elko freshman Gabby Bement broke her personal record for the second straight day with a 94 and tied Lowry’s Hannah Havens for fifth and sixth.
Bement was named a 2nd-Team All-North golfer, finishing the year with an average score of 104.7. She was joined on the 2nd-Team by Martinez, who closed the year with a 108.1 average.
Lady Indian senior Bridgette Elquist notched a 96 – tying her personal record – and placed seventh, followed by a personal record of 98 by Spring Creek junior Aintzane Alt in eighth.
Elquist earned a spot on the 1st-Team All-League squad with an average of 102.4 strokes per tournament, as was Havens with a 100.6 average.
“Aintzane really came to life and played extremely well,” said Spring Creek coach Don Smales. “We had a team meeting Monday night and agreed that we were playing with too much focus on our swings. We decided to just play golf and have fun. The girls had their heads up and everyone played with smiles on our faces. We played a lot better today.”
Alt earned 2nd-Team All-North honors with an average round of 110.8 strokes.
Elko’s amazing team score was posted without the personal-best round of 99 by senior Riley Harris, who took ninth individually with the Lady Indians’ fifth-best card.
Fallon’s Allie Lister rounded out the top-10 and closed the day with 100-even.
For the Lady Spartans, junior Elise Thiesen closed the day with a 101, besting junior teammate Courtney Tournahu’s score of 102 by one stroke.
Thiesen was named a 1st-Team All-League performer at 104.5 strokes per round, Tournahu finishing with 2nd-Team All-League recognition with an average round of 109 strokes.
Spring Creek sophomore Emalee Ingram carded the final qualifying score for the Lady Spartans with a 104.
She finished on the 1st-Team All-League unit with a 104.4 average score, Spring Creek’s best per-tournament total for the season.
Elko junior Gloria MacNevin closed out Elko’s roster with a 105, setting a new personal record.
Junior Candace Halcrow rounded out Spring Creek’s roster Tuesday with a score of 105.
Every member of Elko’s team either set a personal record or equaled it, five setting new precedents and one matching a previous best.
The Lady Indians went gangbusters and shot their season-low team score without junior Sarah Sarbacker, who was a “predetermined rest” to give her injured knee time to heal for the state tournament.
Despite the absence, Sarbacker earned 1st-Team All-League honors, posting the third-best average of the season at 91.8 strokes per round.
The Lady Indians placed senior Kinnady Lostra on the 2nd-Team All-League unit with an average round of 105 strokes.
The other 2nd-Team All-League selection went to Truckee’s Annika Thayer, who closed the season with a 105.1 average round.
“This was a remarkable way to finish the season. The last two days, I told the girls to be comfortable, confident and composed. Their play was reflective of how well they’ve done,” Sarbacker said. “We have a few things to tweak in practice but hopefully we can carry the momentum over to the state tournament.”
“We’re going to focus on hitting our drivers and how we get off the tee boxes. Everyone has been hitting the ball well from the fairways, so we aren’t going to worry as much about our middle game,” Smales said. “We’ll focus on our drives and our short games, chipping and putting. If we can be solid in those areas, it would be a good recipe to take to state.”
The five individuals from non-qualifying teams representing the North at the 3A state tournament will be Thayer of Truckee, Fernley’s Jenna Kollar (107.8 average), Lister of Fallon (109.5), Fallon’s Kaitlyn Hunter (110.5) and Fernley’s McKenna Montgomery (112.2).
Elko’s quest for consecutive state titles will get underway in the Division 3A Nevada State Girls Golf Championship, tee times set for 10 a.m. Oct. 18-19 at Mountain Falls Golf Club in Pahrump.
Congratulations to the Lady Indians for winning back-to-back league championships, Spring Creek for qualifying for another trip to state and to all teams and individual members for a fantastic 3A North season, and best of luck to all in the state tourney.