CORVALLIS — Golf is a mentally draining game, and Lowell Norby will be the first to tell you that.
That is why the Bend High coach, following the first round of the Class 5A girls golf state championships, took his team to the coast. The Lava Bears loaded up in two SUVs and made the hour’s drive from Corvallis to Newport, ate dinner, and noshed on ice cream and candy.
The next day, Tuesday, the team was revitalized. And with three players placing in the top 10 of the two-day tournament at Trysting Tree Golf Club, the Bears captured the team state title.
“To just put (the tournament) on the back burner and forget about it for a few hours is a nice break from the game,” said Norby, Bend’s ninth-year coach. “I think sometimes people obsess about things that they forget about why they’re there. We’re here to have some fun and enjoy each other as a team. And that’s what we did.”
Bend entered an overcast final round Tuesday with an 18-stroke lead on crosstown rival Summit. And though top-two finishes by Olivia Loberg, the individual champion, and Sophie Dalfonsi helped the Storm trim the gap to 12 strokes, Bend held on for the victory with a two-day 698. It is the Lava Bears’ first state championship since 2008 and the first under Norby.
“It really speaks to them as a team and as individuals,” said Norby, whose Bend teams placed second in 2012, 2014 and 2015. “I’ve said it before but we don’t have that one player that goes really low, or in Summit’s case, two players that go really low. So we had to rely on each other.”
Kaylie Hayes carded a 16-over-par 88 Tuesday and placed sixth individually with a two-day 170 for the Lava Bears. Teammate Megan McCleary finished a stroke behind at 171, and Grace West tied for 10th with a 178. Bend was the only team in the field to feature three top-10 placers, and Virginia Felder, who was 13th with a 181, nearly made it four for Bend.
“I just couldn’t be happier for this group of girls,” Norby said. “All week long I heard about how polite they are and about how considerate they are and about how much energy they have around groups of people.”
While Norby praised his players, he lauded Summit — headlined by Loberg, whose 2-over 72 Tuesday secured a second straight individual title with a two-day total of 1-under 143.
“For Summit to come in and get a good second-place finish,” Norby said, “that speaks a lot to the improvement their team has made in the later parts of the season.”
Loberg, a junior who was a co-medalist last year, became the third Central Oregon girl ever to win multiple state championships.
“For me, winning individually and not having to be tied, that feels a lot better,” Loberg said. “It feels great to be the only one to win.”
Tying for second for the Storm, who posted a 710 to defeat third-placed Crater and Crescent Valley by 34 strokes, was Dalfonsi. The Summit freshman posted a 75 Tuesday to finish at 5-over 149.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Summit coach Valerie Mallory said of her team being in the title hunt. “We have two really strong top players in Olivia and Sophie who are great leaders that help us. My other girls were really working hard. They’ve been playing better and better all season, and they peaked at the right time. … I knew we would be in the fight.”