For the Pahrump Valley High School girls golf team, making state has not been routine. This year is only their second team in the past three years to make it.
But the team fought hard and were led by freshman Trojans golfer Breanne Nygaard’s 6-over-par 78 performance on the first day of the tournament on Tuesday.
The Trojans finished third, shooting a 378 after the first day of the two-day girls Nevada Class 3A State Championship Golf Tournament at Mountain Falls, which puts them 19 strokes behind the front-runner, Boulder City (359), and just 16 strokes behind the second place Elko (362).
According to Trojans head golf coach Bob Hopkins, going into the tournament his team lacked experience and was young, which always plays a role in how well the team does.
This year the six girls playing at the tourney are senior Desirae Hembree, junior Makalea Petrie, junior Jessica Pearson, sophomore McKayla Bartley, sophomore Ashliegh Murphy, and Nygaard. Of those three, Hembree, Petrie and Pearson have state experience.
Nerves were a big thing for the young team on Thursday before the start of play. The one thing about the state tournament was having to tee off in front of a lot of spectators.
This is Petrie’s third appearance and she said the nerves still bothered her.
“To calm my nerves I am just singing away to take my mind off of thinking about the holes,” she said. “I feel I am pretty confident about today. At regionals I shot really well, finishing in eighth place (187), better than I expected. Today I am hoping to decrease my score and increase how well I am playing.”
Junior Trojans golfer Jessica Pearson was also nervous about the tee shots. This was her second time at state.
“There are too many people out here and I get so nervous,” Pearson said. “I just need to remember to breathe. I don’t breathe sometimes. But I am excited and I know the course like the back of my hand. Normally I can tell if I am in the rough or not. I am feeling nervous but OK.”
Freshman Breanne Nygaard felt the pressure too despite having played a lot of weekend golf tournaments throughout the year.
“I think you just have to hit the first tee shot and you are off. I just have to shake those nerves off and think there is not a lot of people watching you. This tournament is a little more pressure on it because it’s the state championship and colleges might look at it to see how you did in it,” she said. “And a lot more people come to watch than just the normal tournaments.”
Hopkins tried to relieve a bit of the pressure and told his girls prior to the match to have fun.
“Our goal today is to be in the top three of four teams,” he said.
As far as the nerves and people watching, he said the best way to beat that is playing other sports.
“When you go to a basketball game there are people hollering and screaming at you,” he said. “Soccer and track too.”
Nygaard had a rocky start with a double bogey on the first two holes but after those two initial holes she settled down into a rhythm and she ended up with two birdies on the front nine and one on the back nine.
“I caught up with her after the second hole and told her to slow down and play her game and to relax,” the coach said. “She did that.”
Nygaard sits in third place and only three strokes out from the leader, Lani Potter of Boulder City (75) and just two strokes in back of second place Tatyana Carlson, of Lowry High School (76).
Petrie finished strong too and met her goal by shooting an 87 and finishing the first day in eighth place. Hopkins said Petrie put in her best state round of her three appearances at state.
Hembree shot a 101, Pearson shot a 112, Bartley a 120, and Murphy, 122.
Hopkins was hoping that his team would get a few strokes for playing on their home course at Mountain Falls and basically that has happened.
“I think the team did well,” Hopkins said. “We did fine. Makalea played real well and so did Breanne. If we finish in the top three that will be fine. We have a bright future, with just one senior graduating.”
The second and final round was Thursday. See next Wednesday’s paper for all the state golf action.
Note: Trojans finished the tournament on Thursday and came in third place and had two golfers finish in the top 10. See story on Wednesday.
Contact sports editor Vern Hee at firstname.lastname@example.org