CHARLESTON — From the first meeting in January, North Bend’s girls golf team set a goal of advancing to the Class 5A state tournament.
The Bulldogs achieved that target last week with a second-place finish at the Midwestern League tournament and now have a new hope when they compete Monday and Tuesday at Quail Valley in Banks.
“I’m really glad we made it this far,” said Abbie Kirby, the lone junior on a squad that also includes seniors Brenna Mault and Alex Wilson and exchange student Victoria Slos. “I really want to place.”
To bring home a trophy, North Bend will need to finish in the top four in the two-day tournament. It’s not a goal that’s out of reach, though North Bend will have to play well.
“All these girls have shot their PRs the last two weeks,” coach Riley Grandinetti said. “If they all shoot their PRs again, it would be a 390.”
That score, if shot both days, might be good enough to get a trophy.
“I don’t think we’re going to state with any pressure,” Slos said. “I’m hoping to be fourth or third (as a team). I want to improve my personal score.
“I think we can all improve still.”
Slos has been a huge part of North Bend’s success, Grandinetti said. The other three all returned from the squad that just missed a trip to state last year — this is North Bend’s first trip as a team since 2008.
“The best thing was Victoria,” Grandinetti said. “When she showed up the first day at the range, she got the other girls excited. They thought, we can make state now.”
Their desire showed in their work ethic on the course.
“We had a more dedicated team this year than last year,” Mault said. “And everybody was ready for districts.”
“We’ve improved a lot,” added Wilson, who joined the team for the first time last year, along with Kirby. Mault is a four-year golfer.
Mault said another key this year has been the impact of Grandinetti. The coach, known to the players simply as G, helped Casey McCord last year when McCord was coaching both the boys and girls and took over the girls program this year.
“We got a lot more one-on-one time this year,” Mault said. “G has really helped us a lot.”
Following a practice round at the Sunset Bay Golf Course on Wednesday, Grandinetti was helping the girls work on their chipping skills around the ninth green, fine tuning those skills for next week.
Grandinetti said coaching the squad has been a joy.
“They’ve been a great group,” he said.
Slos has been a fun addition. She is from Belgium and played golf for a number of years growing up before giving up the game a few years ago because as an individual sport it wasn’t fun.
But unlike Belgium, where there aren’t team sports in school, North Bend has provided her a chance to be part of a squad.
“It’s been so much fun,” she said. “I fell back in love with (golf) here. When I go back home, I’m going to continue to play.
“It’s a great sport.”
The team aspect is a highlight for all the girls, who have become a tight group.
”I’m just happy I get to play another tournament with my team,” Kirby said. “We were talking about how we didn’t want the season to end because we love each other so much.”
When they get to Quail Valley for a practice round Sunday, Grandinetti plans to offer insights on a course he knows well. After he played basketball for Southwestern Oregon Community College, he finished his college career playing basketball and golf at Pacific University, located in Forest Grove. Quail Valley was the home course for the Boxers.
“The goal was to get to state,” he said. “Now let’s go have some fun.”