May 14, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

REDMOND La Grandes girls entered the OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 3A/2A/1A State Golf Championships an unknown Monday.

They may leave state champions.

The Tigers shot a 371 and took a four-stroke lead at Redmonds Eagle Crest Ridge Course on the first day, ahead of Seasides 375 and three-time state champion Marists 377.

Kelli Greenough shot an 85, good for fifth place, to lead La Grande. Kelli Tucker wasnt far behind at 90.

It was a great first day, La Grande coach Candy Brooks said. It was pretty nasty (weather) out there and I know its supposed to be worse (today).

Marist, Molalla, Seaside, Reedsport and St. Marys of Medford were the favored teams to contend for the title. The situation resembles the girls state basketball tournament in March, when La Grande entered a virtual unknown and exited in third place. Along the way, the Tigers knocked off top-ranked Marist in the second round.

Brooks said she didnt know how the girls were feeling entering the day, Besides being happy to be here. But they went out and played how they know how to play. They were up and down, but never got crazy. They stayed pretty cool.

La Grande shot out to a fast lead for the second straight week. Last Monday the Tigers took a 47-stroke lead after the first day at the district tournament.

Today La Grande must replicate Mondays performance if it wants the title.

Its not much to ask for, Brooks said. We know were capable of doing this. We just need to stay focused and not let our heads get involved with that trophy.

The highlight of the first day was the play of Nicole Lewis, Brooks said. Lewis shot a 98.

She is so plum excited. Shes playing out of her skin right now, Brooks said. She hasnt played that long and the girls are excited for her. Shes been consistently getting better and deserves this. As do all the others.

Carrie Waldrop also shot a 98 and Sommer Presley, 107.

OSAA-U.S. Bank Class 3A/2A/1A Girls State Golf Championships

Monday, at Eagle Crest Ridge Course, Redmond

Team scores La Grande 371, Seaside 375, Marist 377, Tillamook 380, Molalla 385, Phoenix 388, Taft 397, St. Marys 401, Reedsport 402, La Salle 410, Riverside 411, Central 416, The Dalles 422, Elmira 428, Siuslaw 439, Astoria 463.

Top five individuals Andi Wavra, Kennedy, 80; Meredith Jones, Marist, 80; Lia Kim, Oregon Episcopal School, 84; Kristen Knowles, Central, 84; Kelli Greenough, La Grande, 85.

LA GRANDE (371) Greenough 85, Kelli Tucker 90, Carrie Waldrop 98, Nicole Lewis 98, Sommer Presley 107.