Thomas Jefferson girls golfers shine bright this season

Thomas Jefferson High School had the final girls golf match of the season at the Riverbend Golf Complex against Decatur on Wednesday, Oct. 5. At the beginning of the match, TJ honored three graduating seniors — all of whom were hoping that Wednesday wouldn’t be their final match.

TJ is led by one of the best golfers in the NPSL. Lyla Yesiltepe scored 16 points for the Raiders at Riverbend in their 63-24 victory over Decatur. Head coach Steve Turcotte said he is proud to have a player of that caliber on his team.

“We have the player of the year Lyla Yesiltepe … We can say she will win that award because she has scored more points than anybody else in the league, which is really nice to have,” said Turcotte.

But on this chilly Wednesday afternoon, TJ had another player step up in helping them defeat the Golden Gators. Priyanka Mungra, a senior, was the highest scorer of the day with 18 points for her team. This was the first time Yesiltepe had been outscored by any teammate all season (10 matches). Other points scored for TJ came from senior Sophie Bailey (12), Ava Heitman (10), and Ashiyana Singh (4).

Mungra and Yesiltepe have the skills to play golf at an even higher level this season, according to Turcotte.

The fall tournament is held Oct. 10-11 at Gold Mountain Golf Club. At that tournament, qualifying TJ golfers have a chance to move on to the state tournament after.

“You see the best competition at Gold Mountain,” said Turcotte. “If we have players who perform really, really well and have their best days, we have a good chance to have some players qualify for the state tournament. I think that Lyla and Priyanka have a pretty good shot.”

After the fall tournament is over, the golf season gets put on hold.

The state tournament crowns a champion in the spring at the end of May 2023. Last spring, Yesiltepe was the one of three girls to qualify for state in the Federal Way school district. She finished just outside the Top 50 golfers at the 3A level.

With the gap in between season and state, coach Turcotte isn’t worried about his athletes.

“All these girls have other sports; Priyanka on the other hand plays basketball and plays on varsity for tennis. Ava is a big time softball player and she’ll play softball in college. Adrianna is a freshman and is a really good basketball player…. You gotta love the dual and triple sport athletes,” he said.

Even though TJ will not be league champion due to Auburn Mountainview, the three seniors made a huge impact on not only their season, but their team as well.

“You can always count on those [golfers], for pretty good scores and a lot of points,” said Turcotte.

Golf all around the area has had a struggle with getting players to join Todd Beamer has one boy on their roster, but for coach Turcotte: “We got three girls next year coming back who have a lot of experience, and then it is just a battle to try and get more players next year.”