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Interlake duo learning from one another on golf course; Newport's Li in 4A state mix after injury-shortened 2013 | Prep sports feature
Aleana Groenhout has experienced the full range of emotions during her first three seasons on the prep golf course.
A freshman season that included an emotionally taxing introduction to the state tournament, a host of medalist rounds and all-conference honors during her three years on the prep course, the senior leader for the Saints is ready for her final act.
"I was kind of nervous as a freshman," she recalled. "I practiced over the years, continued improving and learning more about the game. It has been a cool ride."
Groenhout finished in a tie for 13th last year as the Saints moved back to Class 3A, after finished in third place in the 2A tournament as a sophomore. She held a three stroke lead headed into the second day that year, and also made the cut as a freshman.
Sophomore Delaney Douglas gives head coach Doug Calvert another bonafide KingCo and state title threat, and has also given him the chance to see Groenhout go from quiet newcomer to the tone-setter of the program.
"The biggest thing she represents is work ethic," Calvert said. "Aleana is a stallion and when she's on, she's phenomenal."
Groenhout said the intensity and uncertainty of the prep golf scene led to a nervous energy she carried throughout that first season. But playing with Douglas has provided an outlet for competition during practice, as well as a new perspective on enjoying the game.
"She has this way to have fun, all the time, when we're on the golf course," Groenhout said of her younger teammate. "I've definitely learned to do that from her."
Newport's Li, Kent looking for redemption
Marianne Li had a disappointing finish to the 2013 season, and it had nothing to do with her performance on the course.
An injury at a tournament before the high school postseason began held Newport's top player from last season out of the KingCo and district meets, and denied her the chance to compete for what would have been an all but assured state berth.
Head coach Frank Nimmo said after the setback last year, his junior standout again looks like a state championship threat in 2014.
"I know she is a competitor, and it was something she wanted," Nimmo said of missing last year's postseason. "She is mentally tough, and has played so much golf, she's learned to accept the good with the bad."
Even without a senior on its roster, Newport played this year's frontrunner Eastlake within five strokes in the first match of the year. Nimmo said a contingent that also includes former state qualifier Monica Kent may not have the depth of previous Newport teams, but should still challenge for district and state playoff spots.
"They do everything I ask, and lead by example," he said of Li and Kent. "They are showing the type of game where if they get to state, anything can happen."
Trio of Totems' juniors after 2A state spots
Myra Maza was one of two state participants for the Totems at the Class 2A state meet last year, and returns along with fellow juniors Andrea Hood and Kelsey Brooks to lead Sammamish this year.
Maza missed the state cut by only two strokes last season.
Bellevue beat Juanita in 3A KingCo dual meet Tuesday at Overlake Country Club behind a medalist performance from Lauren Patrick, who finished in 17th place at the 3A state meet last year.
Fellow returning state competitors Tiffany Huang and Alexis Choi should keep the Wolverines in the mix for postseason spots.