All-Empire girls golf: Hailey Begert-Hellings helped lead Carrillo’s amazing run

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Maria Carrillo senior Hailey Begert-Hellings (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Maria Carrillo senior Hailey Begert-Hellings (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Tops among ace prep golfer Hailey Begert-Hellings’ highlights are Maria Carrillo’s team achievements.

Helping lead the Pumas to four undefeated league seasons — this year was the program’s fifth straight title — thrilled her equally as never losing an individual match during the streak.

In a record setting season capped by the Empire’s top score again at the section championships, Begert-Hellings was a team leader first while earning a second consecutive All-Empire Girls Golf Player of the Year honor.

“It was cool to keep Carrillo’s streak going. We definitely worked together,” Begert-Hellings said. “The year went really well.”

After winning the Empire player’s award last season, Begert-Hellings sharpened her short game to play even stronger as a senior and repeat as the region’s best. She also made the All-Empire team her first two years at Maria Carrillo.

“She has been the cornerstone for our team over her four years at Carrillo,” said coach Jerry Deakins. “Her impact on her teammates has been instrumental in our success as a program. In a game that promotes individual success, she epitomizes unselfishness.”

By the numbers, Begert-Hellings helped lead a dominant Maria Carrillo team.

The Pumas were 54-0 in the North Bay League her four seasons.

Begert-Hellings did not lose an individual match going 51-0-3.

She shot a league record 29 for three under par over nine holes at Oakmont East against Montgomery this season.

Another match better than par was her one-under 35 over nine holes at Adobe Creek versus Casa Grande this season.

Also shooting two even par matches Begert-Hellings exceeded even her own lofty goal of shooting a single round at par. Rare is the Empire girls’ golfer who can score so low, particularly with little challenge from league opponents.

“I did push myself because I knew I could play better and it paid off,” she said. “It was really awesome.”

Preparation for her final prep season began with double the practice rounds compared with past years. It improved her iron play and putting.

On putting: “I started paying attention to the distance; I sort of fell into a rhythm.”

On irons: “You can save some strokes with a good short game. It makes a big difference to have a four- or five-foot putt.”

Managing her game was another improvement, Deakins said. “She always wants to get better,” he said.

Assisting at a Rooster Run golf camp yielded insights for improving swings and thinking about the game.

Begert-Hellings played some tough summer junior tournaments. A highlight was her third place at the San Francisco Junior championships.

Maria Carrillo scrambled to field a complete team in 2013. Begert-Hellings worked to recruit players and then helped them improve. The second-year captain wanted to keep winning. “It’s definitely a self motivating game as well as a team sport. It was great leading new girls,” Begert-Hellings said.

With the Pumas back in the North Coast Section Tournament of Champions, she aimed to qualify for the Nor Cal Championships. Begert-Hellings missed the cut by one stroke a year earlier. At this season’s TOC she finished several shots further back. “I just had a few mistakes. But I was fine with it,” she said. “It was a good run.”

Next comes the swimming season. Always seeking a challenge, Begert-Hellings last swam for Maria Carrillo as a freshman, in backstroke events.

Begert-Hellings expects to attend a college with a top golf program where making the team would be difficult and take time away from studies. With a 4.6 grade point, Begert-Hellings plans to study biology. “We’ll see where it goes,” she said. “I have fun out there.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

ALL-EMPIRE GIRLS GOLF

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Hailey Begert-Hellings, Maria Carrillo, senior

FIRST TEAM
Megan McConnell, Cardinal Newman, junior
Emily Hulsman, Casa Grande, senior
Alyssa Chandler, Maria Carrillo, senior
Hayley Komrij, Montgomery, senior
Sarah Jane Catarozoli, Petaluma, freshman
Madison Beckett, Analy, sophomore

SECOND TEAM
Morgan Olhiser, Maria Carrillo, junior
Emma Dennett, Casa Grande, junior
Hailey Drake, Ukiah, senior
Ashley Llamas, Windsor, junior
Gretchen Roderick, Ukiah, senior
Amanda Pruitt, Healdsburg, junior

COACH OF THE YEAR
Jane Wann, Healdsburg

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