Neither the team nor the individual who were crowned 2A state champions on Tuesday arrived at Lakeside Golf Course on Tuesday with expectations of walking away with a state title. Their season averages suggested it wasn’t very likely.
As it turns out, both Beaver’s girls golf team and Draper APA freshman Natalie McLane defied those odds to claim their respective 2A titles.
Beaver shot 24 strokes better than its season average, firing a 381 team score on Tuesday to edge defending state champ Rowland Hall by two strokes. Rowland Hall finished with a 383, which was 19 strokes higher than its season average.
“I’m so proud of the girls, and how hard they’ve worked and how they focused. We just came in and thought, ‘We’re going to do our best because Rowland Hall has five seniors, and they’re so awesome, and we’re just going to go play and learn from them,’” said Beaver coach Marilee Eyre.
For McLane, she came into the one-day tournament with the second-best scoring average in 2A at 78.4, but the gap between her and reigning 2A medalist Arden Louchheim was a pretty big one. Louchheim had a 70.7 average in six matches this spring and is a Nebraska commit with a long resume of competing in big tournaments.
McLane knew firsthand how good Louchheim’s shotmaking was as they competed in the same region this year.
McLane never beat Louchheim in any of those region tournaments, but she got the better of her on Tuesday as she shot a 2-over 73 to edge Louchheim by one stroke. Rowland Hall’s Jasmine Le finished third with a 16-over 87.
McLane finished about four holes before Louchheim did, and when she was done she trailed by two strokes. Knowing how good the senior she was chasing was, McLane didn’t really consider the possibility that she still had a chance.
“I thought she’d beat me by a lot, so I wasn’t too stressed,” she said.
Louchheim, however, bogeyed three of the final four holes as her bid for a third-straight individual 2A title came up one stroke short.
“I was shocked, I was really shocked. My mom started crying too and my dad was cheering like crazy (when my mom called and told him),” said McLane.
McLane said the day before the state tournament she was “hozzling” a bunch of shots in a practice round and was genuinely worried it would carry over to the state tournament.
It kind of did too, with McLane double bogeying her No. 10 starting hole. On the next hole, she yanked her par 3 tee shot left into the rough. She chipped up and saved par, and said that sequence helped settle her down.
She proceeded to birdie the next hole and finished out her front nine in 2-over. She parred all nine holes on her back nine to post a number that was close enough to Louchheim to give her a chance.
Draper APA coach Allison Gow said she could see McLane settle down after that rough start, and said Tuesday showed what a bright future she has in golf.
“She is just an amazing kid and I think she’s got a phenomenal future ahead of her in golf,” said McLane.
For Beaver, its depth allowed it to capture its first state championship since 2019 and a going-away present for Eyre who is retiring from coaching golf after 22 years. She retired as a teacher at Beaver five years ago but kept coaching golf to finish up coaching her granddaughter in high school.
Her granddaughter, senior Tawni Eyre, was one of four Beaver golfers who finished in the top 10 at Lakeside Golf Course.
Taisley Marshall finished fifth with a 94, Heidi Harris finished sixth with a 95, and then Eyre and Sunnie Moon tied for seventh with 96s.
“It feels better than anything I can ever imagine. The girls have worked so hard this year,” said coach Eyre. “I feel like our top four girls were as focused as I’ve seen them.”
Written by James Edward for the Deseret News. Republished with permission. Photos courtesy of Fairways Media/Garrit Johnson.
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