Vikings eye first state berth since 2002 |

Vikings eye first state berth since 2002

Jeremy Evans

Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune Jennifer Bigelow, a South Tahoe High senior, finished 19th at the Northern NEvada 4A regional tournament last year.

Nearly all of South Tahoe High’s fall sports teams have regional and state playoff aspirations, and for good reason. The Vikings’ expectations stem from having talented and experienced players returning at key positions.

The South Tahoe girls’ golf team can be added to that list. In fact, by returning all their top players from last year, the Vikings could be the most disappointed fall sports team if they don’t qualify for the postseason.

“We all know we’re going to zone,” said senior Mollie Novasel, who was the only South Tahoe state qualifier in 2004. “State is still going to be a big challenge. But last year, we lost a lot of our top players. We had low expectations. This year, we have the identical top six. So we have really high expectations, from coaches and parents, from everyone.”

South Tahoe’s confidence comes from returning six players, including Novasel, senior Jennifer Bigelow and juniors Jenelle Alessi and Sara Morris. The Vikings also have sophomores Nicole Uibel and Bernadette Schneeberg, who both played as freshman. All this could add up to South Tahoe’s first state tournament appearance since 2002.

“I’m really excited about this season,” said coach Marsha Butler. “I think we have the players needed to qualify for state as a team. I really feel they have the shots in their game. They just got to put it together. If they want to work at it, they have that potential.”

For the Vikings to qualify for state, they’ll have to be one of the top two teams at the Northern 4A regional tournament. South Tahoe took seventh last year at zone. Novasel, though, carded a final-round 76 to become one of six individuals from non-qualifying teams to advance to state.

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At last year’s zone tournament, Galena and Reno finished first and second, respectively. The Grizzlies are again expected to be the top team from the High Desert Division, with Spanish Springs’ Lindsay Hoskins considered the top player in the Northern 4A. South Tahoe won’t get to see those teams until the zone tournament.

However, the Vikings will get their first look at the Huskies today at Sierra Sage Golf Course. It’s the Sierra Division opener for both teams. Reno graduated four of its top six players from 2004 but return No. 1 player Melissa Slocumb.

The top four teams from each division qualify for zone, but the Vikings are hoping to contend for a division title.

“I think we’re going to have a really good season this year,” Alessi said. “Everybody is coming back who was on the top six ladder from last year. I haven’t really heard much about the other teams. I think it’s going to be more competitive this year.”

While the excitement of the upcoming season is warranted, the Vikings are still hurting from the death of Samantha Urch. A 2002 South Tahoe graduate, Urch died last month in a single-car crash on Highway 50. The accident happened near Lake Tahoe Golf Course, where Urch spent many days practicing with the Vikings’ golf team. She was 21.

“At 21, it’s kind of shocking,” Butler said. “She fell asleep right there by the golf course. Sam was a unique person, kind and nice and not a risk taker. It’s something that’s affected all of us. We’re going to dedicate the entire season to her.”

Viking divots

Coach: Marsha Butler, eighth season

Last year: Vikings finished seventh at zone and didn’t qualify for state. Mollie Novasel qualified for state as an individual following her sixth-place finish at zone and finished in a tie for 23rd.

Key returners: Mollie Novasel, Jennifer Bigelow, Jenelle Alessi and Sara Morris.

Key to season: Can the top four returning players from last year help qualify the Vikings for their first team state appearance since 2002?

STHS schedule

Date Site Time

Today Sierra Sage G.C. Noon

Sept. 6 Wildcreek G.C. 1 p.m.

Sept. 13 Eagle Valley West 10:50 a.m.

Sept. 20 Rosewood G.C. 1 p.m.

Sept. 27 Washoe G.C. 12:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 Lake Tahoe G.C. 1 p.m.

Oct. 10-11 Silver Oak (Zone) 11:30 a.m.

Oct. 18-19 State TBA

Note: Vikings’ home match is in bold.