The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

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“Right in it”: Girls golf competes at state championship

Golfers Khanhlinh Tran (11), Joyce He (9), Kimaya Mehta (10), Emi Fujimura (12), Allison Yang (11) and Ashley Mo (10) pose for a picture at the State championship. The girls finished 6th out of the entire state of California. (Provided by Ie-Chen Cheng)

The varsity girls golf team competed at the California Interscholastic Federation State Girls High School Championship for the first time in Harker’s history at the end of their undefeated season on Nov. 15 at Poppy Hills Golf Course.

The Eagles placed sixth with Allison Yang (11) as Harker’s top finisher, tying for 36th place out of 54 girls with a score of +7 (78). Joyce He (9), Kimaya Mehta (10), Emi Fujimura (12), Ashley Mo (10) and Khanhlinh Tran (11) also contributed to the team’s final score of 428. Upper school golf coach Sean Tamashiro congratulated the girls for their hard work this season.

“I thought the team did an excellent job of staying connected with one another, and they practiced really hard for States,” Tamashiro said. “We definitely beat our expectations this year, and I’m very proud and pleased of how everyone performed.”

With the tournament field containing the top 54 players in California, college coaches from universities like Stanford University, University of California, Los Angeles, University of California, Berkeley and California Polytechnic State University flocked to the event to scout players. Allison, who plans on pursuing golf in college, reflected on seeing the coaches at the tournament.

“I thought it was really cool to see a lot of college coaches at the tournament recruiting players,” Allison said. “It shows how far we’ve come in this season because they would’ve never come for smaller tournaments.”

To secure the team’s spot at the State Championships, the girls’ journey began with a series of league matches, which began in late October. Following an exceptional 16-0 league season, they became eligible to compete in the Central Coast Section tournament, where they placed third and qualified for the Northern California regional tournament, commonly known as NorCals. 

The NorCals competition took place at Berkeley Country Club where the Eagles posted a total score of 417, narrowly surpassing the fourth-place team, Monte Vista, by a single stroke. They tied for third place alongside Pleasant Grove, with only the top three teams at NorCals advancing to States.

I never want the girls to give up. There’s always a fighting chance, especially in golf, where each stroke counts

— Ie-Chen Cheng, middle and upper school head golf coach

To break the tie, both teams factored in the scores of their sixth players. Khanhlinh outperformed Pleasant Grove’s Aubree Davis by a margin of 7 shots, securing Harker a top-three placement at NorCals and allowing the team to play at the esteemed State Championships for the first time in history. Middle and upper school head golf coach Ie-Chen Cheng described the importance of each shot in golf.

“I never want the girls to give up,” Cheng said. “There’s always a fighting chance, especially in golf, where each stroke counts. In NorCals, that really showed because if we were one stroke worse, we wouldn’t have advanced.”

Despite individual players from Harker advancing to States in previous years, girls golf had never qualified for States as a team before this season. Cheng, who has coached at Harker for 13 years, observed the evolution of the golf team, which initially had very few members, most of whom were novices. Now, the team has won league championships six years in a row and consistently advances to CCS. 

One principle Cheng firmly upholds is perseverance. Throughout the season, she consistently reiterated the phrase “you’re right in it,” encouraging the girls to persist and maintain self-belief, especially when their performance was not optimal. During NorCals, Cheng urged the team to keep pushing forward, with every shot determining their placement in the competition. 

“When Coach says ‘You’re right in it,’ I really try to play to the best of my ability because you never know what can happen,” Khanhlinh said. “It makes me think that our team hasn’t given up yet, so I can’t either. She makes us believe that we have the potential to win the tournament, so I try to refocus myself and hit better shots. Then I just let fate determine the rest.”

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About the Contributor
Ashley Mo
Ashley Mo, Reporter
Ashley Mo (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Ashley hopes to write about stories both within and outside of the Harker community, form friendships on the journalism team and learn more about global news events. In her free time, she enjoys playing golf and listening to music.

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