The Dalles The season is over for The Dalles Wahtonka boy’s golf team, but with the way his team played, head coach Kent Smith is counting down the days for a return to action.
Three players scored in the 80s, with Nick Glesener carding a two-day total of 167 to finish 11 strokes from earning a state berth on the final day of Columbia River Conference district golf play Tuesday at Big River Golf Course in Umatilla.
Coming off a season-best 344 marker on the opening 18 holes, the Eagle Indians added another solid score of 352 to the scoreboard – an improvement of between 55-70 strokes from the 410 combined on March 15 at The Dalles invitational.
“That to me says a lot about the kids and the work they put in,” Smith said.
Glesener, who ended his opening round with an 84, maintained his consistent play on Tuesday with a 41-42 for his marks.
Bailey Ortega had a 46-43 for an 89 to add up to a 171 and Coby Conlee ended the season headed in the right direction on a 48-43 split for his 181.
Aside from a few miscues, Smith said Ortega could have very well placed himself within striking distance of the final cut.
Dakota Green rebounded from his first-day run of 96 to swing out a 46-43 tally of his own for a 185.
First-year player and senior, Dylan Fitzgerald, shot a 50-49 on his second try to motor home with a 187, just over 30 shots from making the state cut.
Pyper McCallum (147) and Walker Hoolehan (151) finished 1-2 in the individual standings and the Pendleton Buckaroos motored ahead for a team title by nine strokes (616) over Hermiston (625).
TDW (696) ended up in third place and Hood River, led by former TDW player, Dan Kuechmann (157), notched a 962 for fourth place.
Kuechmann’s number was one shot shy of punching a state ticket, as the Hermiston trio of Zac Adams (155), Keegan Kraston (156) and Reilly Hagarty (156) rounded out the top-5 individuals.
“It was a tough tournament. A lot of the kids put up some good scores. (It was) a very competitive field,” Smith said.
This season, Smith had a mixed bag of sorts in terms of experience and older players who were inexperienced in some ways.
Three players who will exit stage left are seniors Dylan Fitzgerald, Bobby MacLeod and Dakota Green.
Smith called Green, the unequivocal team leader, who kept the younger athletes on task at all times.
A four-year player, Green started as a golfer who amassed totals of 110 or higher and shaved that down to the high 80s this season.
“He has been a pretty consistent and determined player,” Smith said. “He has been a real pleasure to work with.”
The biggest regret for Smith was not having Fitzgerald in camp sooner.
In one year, the senior improved by leaps and bounds, so if there would have a four-year span, Smith said there was no doubt Fitzgerald would have his scores down in the 70s.
“He has spent a lot of time on his own playing here on the course trying to improve and develop,” Smith added. “He has positive attitude, worked hard and was a real good part of the team.”
Swing back to the overall picture and Smith is excited about the possibilities.
Conlee, Glesener and Ortega will become the foundation and leaders of the new regime, with some new faces like sprinkled in along with some returners.
He is happy with that starting point.
“As far as this group is concerned this year, their attitudes, their personalities, everything kind of worked together,” Smith said. “(It is the) best group of kids I have had as far as them being coachable, responsible gentlemen. I could not have asked for any more.”
There are already plans to get the athletes started in offseason tournaments and extended time on the links at The Dalles Country Club.
“I do not think they are ready to put the clubs away in the garage until the next golf season,” Smith said. “They are going to work on their game a little bit and I think we will be ready for next year. I think we will continue from where we left off this year as far as development is concerned to give some of the teams a run for their money.”
High drama on girl’s golf side
Day 1 could be categorized as crazy.
The Dalles Wahtonka head girl’s golf coach Dan Telles uttered the words – exciting, wacky and unbelievable.
Hood River Valley crashed the 5A district golf party with three players in the top-5 for a combined 782 to dispatch of the Columbia River Conference field by 16 strokes to capture a league title Tuesday at Big River Golf Course in Umatilla.
“It was an exciting matchup in terms of the teams,” Telles said. “It was wacky because Hood River wasn’t even sure they were going to field a team. For a while, they only had three players, then they had four and now they are winning a district championship.”
The fourth player on the Eagle team, Laura Waller, is the daughter of head coach and golf professional, Dave Waller, but for most of the season she ran track and field for her school.
Rust was not an issue for the younger Waller, who followed up her 92 on Monday with a 95 for her 187 to finish tied for third on the individual side with teammate Alisha Hay, who identical numbers (92-95-187).
Also for the Eagles, Corey Cimock tied for fifth place at 95-95 for a 189.
“She is an athlete and a competitor,” Telles said of Waller. “If she played a little more she can be very good. They weren’t expecting anything, but she placed third. I can’t believe it really.”
Since only the top two teams earn state invites and Hood River had sewn theirs up, the final slot came down to Hermiston and Pendleton.
The Lady Bulldogs actually had a sizeable lead of more than five strokes entering the final hole, especially since Pendleton’s No. 3 player was disqualified for signing a scorecard with an incorrect score.
With the two No. 1 athletes going at it, Pendleton’s Shelby Greb placed her shot not far from the green and two-putted her way to a par.
Madison Welch, on the other hand, hooked a shot out of bounds, had a drop, swung her shot four-feet from the pin and capped the hole with a two-put effort on the green.
At the end of the day, the Lady Buckaroos combined for a 798 to Hermiston’s 799 to pick up the state tournament invitation.
“I can say the golf Gods weren’t on their side. It was crazy,” Telles said. “There was a lot of emotion there from some girls. It is tough, but that is golf.”
Greb wound up taking district title honors with her 84-82 at 166, while Welch made her marks at 81-94 for a 175 for second place. She still qualified for state as an individual, however, along with teammate Connie Brock (96-93-189).
For The Dalles Wahtonka, they had tallies of 467 and 459 for a 926.Jessica Riggs finished just out of the mix in seventh place overall, as she followed up her 101 on Monday with a personal-best 96 for a 197.
Although short of a state berth, it was an admirable effort by the team’s lone senior to say the least.
“We are very proud of her,” Telles said. “Jessica worked her tail off this year. She improved from being a 120 player last year to a 100 and under 100 twice (98 and a 96). That is just great. She did a fantastic job this year.”
Along with Riggs’ PR, Ally Macnab set a personal record on both days and Jennifer Bonham hit the PR marker on her opening try at Big River.
Bonham ended her season at 133 for her 261, while Macnab (264) shaved 10 strokes off her pace of 137 with a 127 for her record.
Reigning state qualifier, Elizabeth Peters added two strokes to her Day 1 tally of 101 with a 103 to chalk up a 204 for her efforts.
Even with Riggs walking off into the sunset, Telles has penciled in Peters for a forceful return along with Bonham, Macnab and Hannah Utley among a few other freshmen.
“I hope these girls stick with it,” Telles said. “Next year, we have a couple of girls coming that will help the squad tremendously and push the other girls to get better. I think we will have our best shot next year and give these other schools some good competition.”
Pretty much the entire CRC is coming back, aside from a couple of Hood River seniors, so they will have a rebuilding task. Greb will welcome in a younger sister and Welch is just a sophomore and she will headline an older Hermiston group.
“We can be right there with them if we keep working,” Telles said. “That is what will make our players better. They will get out of it what they put in. These other schools are doing a lot to improve, so we need to do even more to get up to that level. I think we can do it.”