After bountifuls of birdies, a new state record and a championship, Hannah O’Sullivan’s hands were still shaking.
It had nothing to do with the freshman’s nine birdies — including four in a row — on her way to a tournament-record 64 in the final day of the Division I state tournament. Nor that she finished with 16 total birdies in two days. Nor that her two-day total of 132 was also a state record.
A transplant from Northern California before the school year began, O’Sullivan hadn’t been around round-the-calendar golf or this many courses. She also hadn’t worn the same polo shirt as others on behalf of a school. So don’t tell her about the “routine” of Xavier winning a 30th state title since 1980.
“I was really excited for our whole team,” she said of her hand spasms. “I was really nervous coming into the last few holes. Took awhile for it to sink in. It was a first experience playing on a team. It was hard to believe.”
Aware of her score as she paced Aguila Golf Course for those 48 hours, O’Sullivan was more interested in her teammates’ doings. Despite O’Sullivan’s first-round 68, the Gators felt fortunate simply to be tied with Hamilton after the first day.
There were no speeches and very little coaching. The girls mostly wanted to be left to their own swings and thoughts.
It worked as the Gators won by nine shots.
“What a great time to peak,” said Xavier coach and athletic director Sister Lynn Winsor.
O’Sullivan had been a medalist four times this season, including a couple 9-hole rounds under par, so her state tournament outburst wasn’t completely random. It was a weekend on par with last spring, when the 15-year-old O’Sullivan qualified for the U.S. Open in May and played in July. She’s back to playing individual tournaments this winter and spring — the Silver Bell in Florida is upcoming — but the results were only a fringe “perk” after coming to town knowing nobody and finding her personal, athletic and academic groove.
“To be on a team and know that I helped that cause felt really good,” she said. “I honestly was getting a little lucky but made all my putts. I wasn’t trying to think about the score but worry about that later. I felt good about my game leading up to the tournament. It all fell into place at the right time.”
All-Tribune First Team
Name School Yr. Comment
Abbie Cantwell Cactus Shadows So. All-State selection by coaches took fifth in Div. II (148); arguably top player in NE Valley a second consec. year
Mikayla Harmon Hamilton Sr. Top recruit in the state headed to ASU along with teammate Saki Iida; Third place in Div. I (143) state tournament
Jill Harvison Mountain View Jr. All-State in Div. I avg. 36.2; Mesa city champ (5-under) took ninth at state tournament and top-5 at three other invite
Saki Iida Hamilton Sr. Headed to ASU with Mikayla Harmon; Second place (140) in Div. I caps terrific 4-year high school career
Hannah O’Sullivan Xavier Fr. Tribune POY after record-setting state tournament in winning by eight shots for state champs; medalist in four other matches
Charatta Thongbai Dobson Sr. Medalist in 7 of 10 season matches with 36/78 scoring averages; All-State and All-Mesa honors
Player of the Year: Hannah O’Sullivan, Xavier
Coach of the Year: Ron Tanner, Chandler: Obvious choice by EV coaches for his advocacy of the kids, teaching the game and annually fielding a solid team
All-Tribune Second Team
Name School Yr. Comment
Halie Carpenter Corona del Sol Jr. Top golfer and leader of inexperienced bunch for past three years; 15th at state and solid at Prescott Invitational
Sarah Eversman Notre Dame So. All-State in Div. II and leader of young Saints finished top-5 in five tournaments
Madison Kerley Xavier So. 3-time medalist for state champs was seventh at state and 2nd at Aguila Invitational
Ariana Macioce Xavier So. Four-time medalist took fifth at state (145); alternated top honors with Kerley and O’Sullivan
Jacquelyn Porman Chandler Sr. Four-year starter and four-time team MVP was medalist in 7 out of 10 matches and top-10 at state tournament (150)
Miranda Reyes Desert Ridge Jr. Big step forward in 2012 as medalist in six matches and second place in two tournaments; Top 15 (154) in Div. I state tournament
Arcadia: Anika Carlson, Jr.; Basha: Courtney Bickley, Jr., Megan Liborio, So.; Cactus Shadows: Jamie Frederick, Sr., Joanna Richardson, Jr.; Campo Verde: Kim Cifuentes, Sr.; Chaparral: Sarah Kaye, Sr.; Desert Ridge: Emma Reyes, Fr.; Dobson: Charatta Thongbai, Sr.; Gilbert: Brianna Medrano, Sr., Ashley Ohland, Fr., Megan Ohland, Fr.; Hamilton: Yeson Han, Sr., Helen Kim, Sr.; Higley: Cayleigh Getts, Jr.; Horizon: Kaila Jacobi, So.; Kayla Regan, Sr.; McClintock: Taryn Kaahanui, Fr.; Notre Dame: Riley Corona, So., Mollie Hughes, So., Haley Kapanicas, Fr., Ciara Petronzio, So.; Paradise Valley: Courtney Carlson, Sr.; Pinnacle: Kaylee Knadler, So.; Megan Knadler, So., Gabby Bautista, Jr.; Poston Butte: Joelle Hinman, So.; Queen Creek: McKayla Hull, Jr.; Red Mountain: Katelyn Hicks, Jr., Kaitlyn Saum, Jr.; Scottsdale Christian: Hannah Gerald, Sr., Ashley Lonergan, Fr.; Paisley Muller, So.
Memorable moments from the 2012 season
Xavier zooms: The Gators had some company in winning a 30th state championship since 1980. Hamilton, the only other school to win a team title since 1997 (2010), got good early rounds from Saki Iida, Mikayla Harmon and Yesong Han to forge a tie with the Gators after Day 1. But Xavier rebounded, and the Gators depth helped turn around Day 2 to pull out a nine-stroke win over the Huskies and by 30 shots over Pinnacle, which was also in contention after the first round.
Tweaks for time: Changes by the sports advisory committees appeared to help the cause come tournament time. Darkness and length of rounds/days was a significant problem for both Div. I and Div. II tournaments in recent years, but the reductions in qualifier coupled with better play helped alleviate those issues. The tournaments began bright and early but nearly all groups were off the course by mid-afternoon each day, and overseeded courses were a concern of coaches heading into the tournaments, but most later felt the courses played fair.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.