Falcons earn their seventh straight appearance at the Class 5A girls golf tourney

Powered by the incredible consistency of junior Stephanie Miller, the Liberty girls golf team notched a second-place finish at the Northwest Oregon Conference district tournament on Tuesday, earning the Falcons their seventh consecutive trip to the Class 5A state championships.

Miller made five birdies and virtually no mistakes over the course of the two-day district tournament, held at The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Course in Aloha, and her Modified Stableford score of 131 was good for individual medalist honors, besting Wilsonville freshman Kaitlyn Howe by three points. It was Miller’s sixth tournament win of the season.

“Stephanie played out of sight,” Liberty golf coach Stuart Kivett said. “In two days, she had maybe one quasi-bad hole. Her improvement this year has been incredible.”

Led by Howe’s runner-up finish and junior Audrey Chames’ third-place performance, Wilsonville captured the team title with 425 points. Liberty finished second with a score of 392, followed by Sandy in third (366) and Sherwood in fourth (319). St. Helens did not record a team score.

“We played pretty much as well as we could have,” Kivett said. “Wilsonville is a very good, very deep team this year. Even at full strength, it would have taken a Herculean effort by us and probably a stumble by Wilsonville for us to win.”

Liberty senior McKenzie Oster — who has been plagued by a left knee injury this season — finished fourth overall with a two-day score of 111 and Sandy’s Brooklyn Dobson finished fifth (106) to claim the conference’s final individual berth to the state tournament, which will be held next Monday and Tuesday at Emerald Valley Golf & Resort in Creswell.

Liberty’s team score was completed by sophomore Elaina Maki (80), freshman Netianah Northcutt (70) and freshman Lorrin Santoro (27).

Now the Falcons will turn their attention to the state tournament, where they are looking to improve upon last year’s sixth-place team finish.

“I never, ever talk at all about scoring or finishing place,” Kivett said. “I talk about relaxing and enjoying the process and recognizing that we’re priviliged to be going to the state tournament again.

“We never want to take it for granted. We understand it’s quite an honor to be there, and there are a lot of kids that would trade places with us. We just want to go down there and try to represent Liberty well.”

Miller finished tied for 13th at last year’s state tournament, which was held at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks. Her sister, Sam Miller, finished fifth last year as a senior, so Stephanie will be looking to continue the family’s legacy of success.

“Stephanie absolutely has the ability to go down there and shoot a couple sub-75 rounds, especially if she can roll in a few putts,” said Kivett, who noted that Miller knocked in at least two putts of 40 feet or more this season.

“She’s nailed a few bombs this year. Her putting has been absolutely incredible.”

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