By Pat Perkins
Observer Staff Writer
The La Grande Tigers girls golf team brought home a fourth-place trophy from last years Class 3A-2A-1A state tournament, but coach Candy Brooks hasnt thought much about this years prospects.
I dont like to think anything is a given, Brooks said. When I think about it, I bet weve got a great chance to go to state.
Considering that four of the five girls who golfed at state a year ago are back on this years team, La Grandes return to the state tournament next month in Redmond may be as much a given as anything.
The Tigers already have finished second twice this season, both times to Class 4A school Hermiston. Monday, junior Kelli Greenough was the second low gross player at Wildhorse Golf Course in Mission. Greenough was also second at The Dalles.
Also back from last years state team are seniors Carrie Waldrop and Sommer Presley and sophomore Nicole Lewis. Sophomore Bess Buzzard joins the varsity five this season, and senior Kacey Evins is close behind Buzzard in weekly qualifying for varsity competition.
This varsity team is strong in that they so love one another, Brooks said. They encourage one another, they support one another. They share in everything, the upsides, the downsides, the fun. They are very in tune with one another.
They step out like golfers do. They have a perk in their pace. They step lively, they keep it moving like youre supposed to do when youre golfing. They know about the rules, they know little things that people dont even think about.
It sounds like an experienced bunch, one that could make a run at a state title. But Brooks isnt yet thinking that far ahead.
It all comes down to district. All this other stuff is just experience.
TIGER BOYS FINE
The La Grande boys golf team may not think its playing well, but the Tigers are doing just fine.
They finished fourth Monday at the Wildhorse Golf Course in Mission, but were just six strokes behind Bend, with Pendleton and Walla Walla in between.
The Tigers dont compete against those schools at district, so La Grandes prospects of getting back to the Class 3A state tournament next month in Redmond are good. Coach Don McAndie believes Baker is a serious challenger to the district title that La Grande won last year.
We took first at district last year (and) were going to have to work a little bit to do that this year. Bakers going to be pretty tough, McAndie said.
The Tigers returned two varsity golfers in sophomores Todd McAndie and Tyler Tucker. Senior Willie Vaughn had some varsity experience last year, but juniors Simon Arnold, Cody Presley and Jeremy Williams and sophomore Bill Waldrop are new to varsity.
New to the game are sophomore Nick Cornford, senior Robert Bates, junior Nick Drey and freshmen Ricky Gloria and Justin Deal.
Baker, with returning district champion Derek Riggs, will be tough to beat, but dont pencil in La Grande at second place.
I still think we could do first. We just have to work at it. But Im not going to count out Baker.
ENTERPRISE BOYS START RUN FOR STATE GOLF TITLE
Enterprise will make another run at a Class 2A/1A state boys golf title starting at todays Small School Invitational in Echo.
Two golfers from last years championship team are seniors Cory Siebe and Kyle Crawford.
They played the two and three (positions) last year. Theyre both good players, Enterprise coach Mike Crawford said. From there I have 16 other guys.
The players most likely to compete for spots on the five-member varsity squad include juniors Kevin Gomes, Grady Rawls and Kelsey Lukens, and sophomore Derek Huff. Freshmen Andy Marcum and Jake Thompson could make a run at it, too, coach Crawford said.
I think theres probably some other kids who are out there who are in the mix, he said.
The team didnt get on the Alpine Meadows Golf Course until this week, but Enterprise always has had to deal with a later start to a season that officially started March 11.
Unfortunately this year the ice has kind of hung in there, Crawford said.
GIRLS HAVE SEVEN OUT
The Enterprise girls have seven golfers out this season, including four from last years squad.
Seniors Shayla Thompson, Cami Conrad and Jennifer Williams lead the experienced group, with Tara Phinney another returning varsity player.
Three freshmen are out as well: Kayla Miller, Kayla Stoffel and Jessie Morgan.
The fun part for coach Kathy Siebe, she said, is that all have played golf before, so they dont have to be taught the basics like how to hold a club.
I can take them out on the course and they can just get a lot of experience, she said.