For the first time since 2013, the Blair Bears are going to the Class B State Golf Championships together.
The Bears earned a team berth Monday at River Wilds Golf Club during the District 2 Tournament. They were third behind first-place Omaha Duchesne and second-place Nebraska City, but three strokes ahead of the Bennington Badgers.
All five members of the Blair girls team sat and waited together as the final Bennington score was posted. Once they did the math, they became giddy with the lone senior — Ava Rech — stepping away to call her folks with the good news.
“I think it's going to be really fun because we all get to go together,” she said.
Longtime BHS coach Ross Udey said his Bears earned their trip to Monday and Tuesday's state tournament in Columbus at Elks Country Club.
“It was totally a team effort,” he said.
Rachel Parks led Blair's march toward state with a fifth-place finish. She carded just 90 strokes, taking a calculated approach to her 18 holes.
“I didn't try to kill it,” Parks said. “I just hit the ball how I was supposed to.”
“She's one of the top players,” Udey added, noting how the junior put it all together and delivered a score the Bears needed Monday afternoon.
Freshman Mallory Stirek added a 101 for BHS.
“I'm really excited to go to state,” she said. “It's a really good opportunity for all of us.”
Kaia Stewart said the same after shooting a 104, a quality score that helped Blair edge Bennington for the last qualifying spot.
“It's just a mental thing,” she said. “Thinking you're going to do good, and just going through with it.”
Rech carded a 110, while Anna Moore added a 122.
“I've never been (to state),” Moore said. “It's going to be a new experience. When I'm a junior and a senior, I'll have that experience.”
Udey said last Saturday's tournament win at Oakland Golf Club acted as a springboard for the Bears. They built to their district performance and made the most of it over the course of the fall.
“I'm just so happy for these guys,” Udey said. “They've played so well all season.”
Parks, Stirek, Stewart, Rech and Moore will be the first team of Blair golfers to compete at the girls state golf tournament together since Haleigh Salsbury, Molly Sheehan, Delaney Dawson, Chanler Garris and Elisa Ellis did it six years ago.
In addition, Stirek was proud to report that she beat her BHS-golfing brother Jake to state.
“I'm going to be like, 'Going to state and you're not,'” the freshman said. “He'll probably be pretty proud of me.”
Stirek also bets Jake will do his best to match the Blair girls next spring. But, for now, its Udey and the Bears who are preparing for a Monday-Tuesday trip to Elks Country Club — the site of the 2019 Class B State Championships.