Golf News

Making birdies and adding 4A golf state titles – that is what record-setting Bellarmine Prep girls do

By now, those who follow Class 4A girls golf – or generally WIAA state-championship dynasties – know what kind of run the Bellarmine Prep Lions have been on.

Since 2003, the Lions have racked up 12 state team titles in 4A. Four Lions – Chris Yun (2004), Alivia Brown (2012, 2014), Olivia Benzin (2013, 2015) and Montgomery Ferreira (2018) – have been crowned individual state champions.

“Obviously there is an expectation here,” said junior Julia Bordeaux, a Notre Dame commit. “There is a certain amount of pride putting on a Bellarmine Prep uniform.”

No more pride than is felt right now.

Later this month, Bellarmine Prep will try and add another state title to one of the longest winning streaks in the country.

The Lions have won nine consecutive 4A titles, dating back to 2010. It is the seventh-longest streak in National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) history. Phoenix Xavier College Preparatory (1980-95) and Chattanooga Baylor (1995-2010) share the national mark at 16 in a row.

“Not many schools have won one state title,” Lions junior Jessica Zelasko said. “It is cool we’ve won nine in a row.”

And if you’d asked 4A championship hopefuls nearly a year ago what the odds were in upending the Lions this spring, they would have told you it was pretty remote.

Last spring, despite being talented, Bellarmine Prep was young heading into the 4A tournament at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

And then the results came in:

Ferreira, then a ninth grader, won the 4A title at 13-under-par 131, which is considered a national scoring record for a two-day state-sanctioned high school tournament.

Jessica Zelasko
Junior Jessica Zelasko is hoping to lead Bellarmine to a 10th consecutive 4A girls golf state title. (Photo by Todd Milles)

Nine strokes back of Ferreira was Bordeaux in second place. In many seasons, her 4-under 140 total would have won a state championship.

Two others, including Zelasko, placed in the top 10 on the 4A leaderboard.

But much has unfolded in the 11 months since Bellarmine Prep’s exclamation-point triumph.

Longtime coach Mark Bender retired, and Anna (Comfort) Hunthausen, a 2009 Bellarmine Prep graduate, took over the reins of the program.

“I am so glad there is a rich history here,” Hunthausen said.

Although Hunthausen was never part of a Lions’ squad that won the 4A title she returned as one of Bender’s assistant coaches in 2016.

For as rich a history as this program has enjoyed, especially at the state level, imagine the surprise when only four girls, including the three returning state placers, showed up for the first day of fall practice.

Hunthausen immediately began asking around the high school if there were other girls interested in coming out. Eventually, newcomer-to-golf ninth graders Lauren Watts and Ellie Rupert joined the squad.

It is a good thing they did, because after Ferreira suffered a season-ending knee injury in a skiing accident in December, the Lions have just four golfers heading into next week’s bi-district tournament at Gold Mountain Golf Complex.

Hunthausen, as well as Bordeaux and Zelasko, have been pointed in their message to the first-year golfers: Do not worry about any winning streak.

“Their main goal is to grow in this sport,” Hunthausen said. “And do their best.”

It puts more on the plate of the two veteran golfers, especially Bordeaux, who is also participating in track and field for the first time this spring.

“Trying to balance track and golf this postseason, and school as well, has been difficult,” Bordeaux said. “But it will get done.”

If the Lions wins a 10th consecutive 4A title, they will join Wilson boys swimming (24 in a row), Sehome girls gymnastics (13) and North Central boys cross country (11) as the only Washington prep programs to post double-digit state winning streaks.

“It is important to me,” Bordeaux said. “I want us to go as far as we can. If it doesn’t happen, hopefully we will get the win as an individual.”

Anna Hunthausen
First-year Bellarmine Prep coach Anna Hunthausen, left, watches Ellie Rupert hit chip shots during a team workout. (Photo by Todd Milles)

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