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Kersten wins state golf in playoff

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Lewis and Clark sophomore Sierra Kersten defeated Olivia Benzin of team champion Bellarmine Prep in a one-hole playoff to secure the individual State 4A title with a two-round score of 151 (78-73) on Wednesday at Club Green Meadows.

“It was crazy. I had a rough first round,” said Kersten, who finished in a tie for fifth place last season. “And then today, I don’t know, I was just on.”

In dramatic fashion, Kersten tied Benzin on the final hole. Although Kersten sent her drive to under a tree on the par-5 hole, she hit her wedge to the green and landed only 8 feet away from the cup. After dropping the putt for birdie, Kersten walked off No. 18 and thought her tournament had concluded.

“I just (wanted) to birdie the last hole,” Kersten said about her mindset at the time. “That would be a great way to end it. I didn’t realize that I tied it on the last hole.”

Then during the sudden-death playoff that began on the No. 1 hole, Kersten sank her longest putt of the day from 25 feet to save par. Benzin bogeyed and finished as the runner-up, two strokes ahead of teammate and former defending individual champion Alivia Brown (73-80 – 183), who placed third overall.

Bellarmine Prep, from Tacoma, became the first program in State 4A girls golf state history to win four straight team championships. With six scoring golfers, Bellarmine Prep produced a team score of 168.

Mead finished last among the eight teams competing.

Kelly Hooper of Gonzaga Prep tied for 10th at 166, Lydia Kim of Mead tied for 12th at 167 and Nicole Berg of Ferris just missed a top-20 finish at 171.