Gertie Muñoz

Gertie Muñoz wants it all and the smart money wouldn’t bet against her getting it.

The Flowing Wells High School junior has already been to the state championship game in basketball, when the Cabs lost to four-time defending champion Millennium last March. One of her goals is to get back to that title game in 2023 and 2024. 

But right now, she’s working on another goal. She wants to make it to state in golf. 

In the arcane world of high school golf (as well as in tennis) in Arizona, a player can make it to state two ways. While in tennis, the Arizona Interscholastic Association uses its horribly flawed Power Points system to put together a 16-team single-elimination tournament. For golf, they use something called the iWanamaker system. Describing the iWanamaker system would put people with extreme insomnia to sleep. 

For example, in the iWanamaker, a player can use the scores of any five matches she has played on a given course during the season. The limit of five is strictly enforced; except sometimes it’s six.

A golfer can also make it to state as an individual. That’s probably her best shot this year. Last week, she shot a highly respectable six-over-par round at Silverbell Golf Course.

She has a solid array of golf shots in her repertoire, a nice mixture of mid-range shots, leading up to meticulous putting. But it is her driving that attracts the most attention. While she could not be described as diminutive, Gertie is not a She-Hulk. On the driving range, she turns quite a bit of heads, with the explosive clack of her driver hitting the ball off the tee and the incredible distance she gets. 

An older man at the driving range remarked, “I can’t believe how far that girl hits it. The results certainly don’t match her size.”

Apparently, she understands the difference between momentum and force in physics. Momentum is mass times velocity, which will make a ball go a certain distance. Many golfers tend to swing through the striking zone at a steady rate of speed, which leads to a nice distance, but not an “Oh, wow!” one.

Gertie has the “Oh, wow!” stuff down. She uses the torque of her hips to accelerate the club through the striking zone, generating an enormous amount of force. If (when) she makes it to state, her driving ability will have played a big part in her success.

Moving over to basketball, I asked her, “If you could be guaranteed the next two years as the starting point guard for Millennium and a great shot at two state championships, would you take it?”

She replied, “Absolutely not! I’d never leave Flowing Wells. We’re a family. We’re just a group of players who have come up together from elementary school and middle school. We’ve worked hard together, and we have a common purpose.”

And yes, she really does talk like that.

Having been sufficiently chastised, I tried to ask her something else, but she just kept on goin’.

“I feel like I could learn so much from coach (Michael) Perkins and all the other coaches. Other schools have, like, a collection of athletes who have been brought together. We’re a family who has been brought up together.”

Finally… Gertie?

“I was named for St. Gertrude,” she explained.

I looked it up and it says that St. Gertrude is the patron saint of cats. Cats being the evil creatures that they are, I don’t know why they would have a patron saint.

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