North Kitsap trio leads swing revival

POULSBO — North Kitsap High School freshman Miquela Pendleton is so serious on the golf course that her demeanor has earned its own nickname: ‘The Miquela March.’

POULSBO — North Kitsap High School freshman Miquela Pendleton is so serious on the golf course that her demeanor has earned its own nickname: ‘The Miquela March.’

Pendleton will take a shot, pick up her bag and advance briskly to the next location with the measured movement of an efficiency expert.

“It’s the way she focuses. She’s not talking or goofing around,” Assistant Coach Brad Jarvis said.

It may be hard to keep up with Pendleton, both on the course and on the leader board, but two fellow freshman have been able to match her nearly step for step.

Pendleton, Ella Sanman and Alicia Bratlien have combined to help power North Kitsap to a 4-2 record heading into their final regular-season match of the year, and all three give the Vikings a potent future.

Pendleton has led the team in scoring in five of those matches — including a blistering 25 points against Gig Harbor — and Sanman claimed the sixth.

“When they’re seniors, watch out,” said Gig Harbor Head Coach Dave Fiorino, whose team edged North Kitsap earlier this season despite the Vikings’ highest point total ever.

“All three are fearless,” said North Kitsap Head Coach Brian Bignold. “They’re not scared of anybody.”

While the girls’ golf program was first lifted off the ground by a team of mostly-inexperienced golfers, it’s been given an additional boost with the addition of Pendleton, Sanman and Bratlien, all of whom had played some golf before the season began.

Pendleton has seven years of golfing experience, four of them with the Washington Junior Golf Association; Bratlien and Sanman have more sporadic experience over the past few years.

All three were introduced to the sport by relatives — Pendleton by her father, Michael, and Bratlien and Sanman by grandparents — and have impressed Bignold with their dedication.

Sanman worked this summer with well-respected golf coach Joe Thiel in Lacey, who was LPGA star Se Ri Pak’s coach for several years. Bratlien and Pendleton have begun lessons with Thiel, too.

The trio will also play in the same district in WJGA competition during the summer.

Bignold is happy to see the three becoming friends. All three are competitive with each other, he said, but he doesn’t want them to push it to far.

“I don’t want them to undermine each other through their competitive fire,” he said.

The freshman golfers say that’s unlikely.

Sanman said the girls will often compete in practice — “But it’s fun competition,” she added.

Pendleton said the good-natured rivalry helps them improve

“It makes you strive to get better. You always want to beat someone,” she said. “But we want to see each other succeed as much as we want to see ourselves succeed.”

And when it comes to matches against other teams, the girls say everyone on the team is supportive of each other.

Bratlien said she has been able to laugh off mistakes with other golfers this year, but at the same time, they have helped her get better.

“We depend on our teammates’ support,” she said.

The three have support from upperclassmen, too.

Earlier this year, two of the team’s seniors were discussing how well all the girls got along.

“Sometimes when there are freshman on the team, there can be animosity. But there’s not,” said Chelsie O’Neill-Dewing.

“…Because they can kick our butts,” added Ellie Piper.

Pendleton may perfect her march over the next three years. But she probably won’t be marching alone.