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Swanson set for state title defense

Forest Grove senior Hannah Swanson has a chance to double down with another state championship


Hannah Swanson’s past is sterling. Her future is decided. But what about her present?

Swanson, a senior at Forest Grove, enters this spring in uncharted territory. Never before Swanson had a Vikings girl won a state title in golf, much less had the chance to defend it. That puts Swanson in a position to add even more to an already illustrious resume before she heads off to Oregon State on scholarship in the fall.

In addition to capturing Class 6A medalist honors a year ago in record-setting fashion, Swanson led Forest Grove to what is believed to be a first-ever team berth in the state tournament. She also is the three-time defending Pacific Conference champion.

For a golfer who has won practically everything at the high school level, where does she go from there?

Quite simply, she embraces the opportunity before her.

“This year it will be definitely different just because I won it last year and obviously, when you win something and you’re going into it the next year, you kind of have a target on your back no matter what,” Swanson admits. “So it will be a little bit more pressure, but I’m ready for the challenge.”

The reason for her readiness, perhaps, is that like many athletes, she has grown accustomed to bearing the weight of her own expectations. Swanson speaks of the pressure she put on herself last season after not achieving the results she wanted in her freshman and sophomore trips to state, of wanting to make sure others left knowing her name.

If the past can serve as precedent, Swanson responds to pressure beautifully. Playing just up the highway at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks, Swanson entered the second day of state competition tied for the lead with Gigi Stoll of Beaverton, the reigning champion.

Stoll took to the course earlier than Swanson did on the second day and set an insane clip, going 5-under-par on the front nine. Though she gave a couple of strokes back late, she still finished with a tournament-record 68 and a two-day score of 3-under 141.

But Swanson was not to be denied. She fired a 5-under — including three birdies and an eagle — on her final nine holes to shoot a record-setting round of 67 and defeat Stoll by a single stroke.

The performance, being able to compose herself and playing her own game that day add up, even now, to a fond memory for Swanson, who says her goal was to play well, not necessarily to win.

“I’m still thinking about it, like, ‘Wow, I really pulled it off with all that pressure,’” Swanson says. “I knew exactly what I had to do, and I pulled it off.”

The competition should be stiff again this season. Stoll returns, and Swanson expects other girls to be in the mix, including Sheldon’s Haleigh Krause (third in 2013).

So with state lingering in the near future, Swanson is getting to work knocking the rust off. Also a member of Forest Grove’s girls basketball team, Swanson played golf a few times this winter, she says, though not as many as she did a year ago. So she is grateful that the Vikings do not play in their first golf tournament until after spring break.

That gives her the chance to do some makeup work. On Friday, Swanson heads with her family to Palm Springs, Calif., where she will play a lot of golf over spring break and work with her longtime coach, Bruce Furman.

“That’s pretty much what the trip is for,” she said.

When she returns from California, she wants to get off to a stronger start to the season than she has in past years, she says. Winning a fourth district title is a main focus, as is returning to state with her teammates. Swanson’s close friends — Amanda Horne, Emily Keller and Madison Woods — also return from the 2013 tournament team.

Swanson convinced them to join the squad their freshman year.

“It’s honestly one of the best things ever because we’ve been best friends since like seventh, eighth grade,” Swanson says of playing golf with her friends. “Whenever we’re together, it’s just the funniest thing. We have crazy moments. Every tournament is a new little memory that I get to remember when I’m older.

“It’s going to be hard saying goodbye to it.”



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