A nice inter-conference rivalry is brewing between The Dalles’ Tyler Vassar and Ridgeview’s Isaac Buerger.
One week after Vassar picked up a medalist title by three strokes at the Redmond Invitational, Buerger sank a 20-foot putt on the 18th hole to claim first place over Vassar by one stroke at Monday’s Hood River Valley Invitational.
“Isaac hit a clutch shot to win it. It was a great duel match between those two throughout the day,” TD head coach Dan Telles said. “Tyler took one last week and Isaac got one this week, so it goes to show how evenly-matched those two are. Tyler knows he’s going to be challenged in every tournament and every shot is important.”
Earlier in the day, rain pelted the par-72 Indian Creek Golf Course terrain, which presented tough challenges to the six teams and 32 participants.
The soggy and wet conditions were no issue for the top 3 individual placers, Buerger, Vassar, and TD junior Aidan Telles, who finished with scores of 74, 75 and 76, respectively.
“At around two or three o’clock, the rain slowed down, and the course started drying up a little bit. The second half was a lot better, but the first two and a half hours, it was pretty bad,” coach Telles said. “We thought the scores were going to blow up a lot, which it pretty much did, but the three players who shot 74, 75 and 76, did a fantastic job.”
Led by Buerger and fifth-place finisher Justin McMahon (85), Ridgeview notched a team title with a combined 346, edging The Dalles (349) by three shots.
Hood River Valley (367), Crook County (394), Redmond (421), and Pendleton (452) rounded out the team standings.
A new wrinkle has been added to the 5A boys golf landscape this season, with point totals given to the Intermountain Conference teams and players over the course of four tournament matches.
Last year, every team qualified for regional play, but this year, the top-4 of the six IMC schools punch their regional tickets with the conference champion earning a bye and an automatic state berth.
If the conference champions have the top individual point scorer(s), then the next two people in line move on to state.
Those two golfers can still participate at regionals with their teams.
The second-, third-, and-fourth-place IMC teams qualify for regionals, while the fifth- and sixth-place teams are done for the season.
However, up to four individuals on non-regional qualifying squads in both leagues can secure a tournament spot, joining the three IMC and three Northwest Oregon Conference schools for play on May 6-7 at Indian Creek Golf Course in Hood River.
Those six teams from the two leagues will fight it out for the final two state invitations to go along with five individual slots.
“Every tournament is crucial. They can’t afford to have a bad day and have to focus on every shot,” coach Telles said. “You can have a bad hole, but if you do, you got to scrap it and move on. You can’t have two or three bad holes in a row, so every shot counts. We shot our season-low with a 349, which is great, especially with the conditions they had to play in. Every week, we are going to have to battle and try to shave off some more strokes just to secure a spot, so it is important for everyone to play well.”
Through one event, Ridgeview is in the lead with 10 team points, ahead of The Dalles (7), Hood River Valley (5), Crook County (4), Redmond (3), and Pendleton (2).
Because of his win, Buerger leads with 30 individual points, Vassar has 25, Aidan Telles is at 22, Redmond’s Emmett Hagen carded an 82 to notch 19, and McMahon settles in with 16 points.
Hood River Valley’s Chad Klaas placed sixth overall after an 87 for 14 individual points; Ren Tappert, also of HRV, was seventh and had a scorecard of 88 to get 12; Ridgeview’s Dylan Bojanowski (90) ended his day in eighth place and hit the 10-point mark, and the duo of Owen Clemett (HRV) and Trenton Brinkley (Crook County) hit 93s and were tied for ninth place with 8.5 points.
After Vassar and Aidan Telles, TD’s Spencer Taylor dropped 11 strokes from last week with a personal-record 96, Jonathan Snodgrass cut his totals to 102 after his 110, and No. 5 player, David Adams, carded a 130.
“Last week, we shot a 374 and took fourth place. This week, they all had better scores and we took 25 strokes off, which is awesome,” coach Telles said. “They all played good golf. The team improved. Spencer broke 100 for the first time as a golfer and Johnathan had a couple of rough holes, but he fought back and almost broke a 100.”
In Vassar’s sophomore season, The Dalles qualified for state as a team and notched a top 10 finish.
Last year, Aidan Telles captured top 10 state status as an individual.
With the current setup, TD has two players who were top-10 at state, but the team could miss out on any postseason bids if someone struggles.
“There is a little more pressure, but I know they can handle it,” coach Telles said. “They are showing the desire to improve and to drop their scores. They are showing it every day and they are willing to step up and try to improve themselves as a whole. With the conditions the way they were, there were quite a few people with bad holes. A few of them started with sevens and eights on par-4s, but then they fought through and just tried to overcome the conditions with the understanding that everybody had to play through the same thing. They understood that and just kept battling.”
At 10 a.m. Monday, TD travels to Redmond for an IMC event at Eagle Crest.
On April 22, league athletes are in The Dalles at 8:30 a.m. and the girls tee off at noon.