Spanish Springs golfer Katrina Prendergast finds herself in a very rare situation for a high school junior.
Having already won two Division I North regional titles as an individual, Prendergast has a legitimate shot at one of the rarest feats in high school sports: four championships in four years. Regardless of the sport — whether it’s golf, track, wrestling or something else — finishing on top four straight times is something only the most talented athletes can even dream about.
But ask Prendergast whether another individual title or a second straight team championship at the state tournament is more important, and she does not hesitate at all.
She wants the Cougars to repeat as state champions. Any individual honors that come up along the way would be a nice bonus.
“I’d take a state team championship. Definitely,” Prendergast said before a Cougars practice at Red Hawk last week. “(An individual title) would be pretty cool, but it hasn’t really crossed my mind. I always think that it’s a team sport and you have to put your team first.”
Much of the appeal of high school golf for Prendergast is the simple joy of having teammates, wearing the school colors and joining with a group of other girls for a collective sense of accomplishment. During the high school offseason, she’s talented enough to play in some of the top junior events in the country. But in the fall, the girls golf season in Northern Nevada, she’s more than happy to simply represent the Cougars on the course.
“During the summer, it’s always an individual sport,” Prendergast said. “But when it comes to high school (season), it’s fun. It’s a team sport, and you’re there for each other.”
While she’s part of a team, there’s no denying that Prendergast’s individual talent gives the Cougars and second-year coach Mike Bosco a weapon that most other teams lack. That was apparent last year, when Prendergast shot consecutive 76s to finish second at the Division I state tournament at Wildcreek and lead the Cougars to their first state championship in the sport.
Setting aside individual champion Alex Kaui from Green Valley — who shot an otherworldy 138 — only four other players broke 160 for the two-day event. Only five more after that came in under 170. Prendergast’s 152 turned out to be the push that Spanish Springs needed to hold off rival McQueen by 10 strokes for the team title.
“I like watching her play. I learn things for myself, just by watching her,” Bosco said. “The way she carries herself, she’s so beyond her years. She’s got a great future ahead of her. I’m just thrilled to have her for not only this year, but next year, as well.”
Spanish Springs and McQueen look to again be on a collision course for determining the best team in the region and, possibly, the state. Last year, the Lancers won the High Desert League and Division I North Region titles before the Cougars came storming back to claim the state title.
McQueen’s Michelle Duan, Alice Duan and Allison Gaskill all finished in the top 14 at the 2012 state tournament. Spanish Springs counters with Prendergast, whose best round ever is a 69 this year at Red Hawk, team captain Trae Jones and Samantha Sorensen as a solid front three. That leaves Bosco only needing one other player on his deep roster to step up and complete the Cougars’ scoring positions.
“They are as consistent as consistent goes,” Bosco said of his top three players. “When you have three girls like that and then six other girls competing for that one spot, it’s going to make you better. We’re very fortunate to have the three of them. They’re leading by example, and it’s pushing the other girls to be better.”
The Division I regional — and Prendergast’s chance for three individual titles in three years — is Oct. 14 and 15 at Red Hawk, the Cougars’ home course. As a team, it’s also a necessary step if the Cougars are going to defend their 2012 state championship.
“We always want to better ourselves from the last year,” Prendergast said. “We’ll try to win league and then regionals, and that will get us to state. We want to play the best we can each tournament.”