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LO boys golfers set to defend title, girls eye state

by: VERN UYETAKE Max Carter is the defending district champion and one of the top golfers in the state this year.

The Lake Oswego boys golf team enters the spring as the defending state champions. But the Lakers also enter the spring without the defending individual state champion in Tye Gabriel.

And yet, despite losing the top high school golfer in the state, Lake Oswego figures to be just as strong as it was last season.

That's a testament to the program's depth and to its three top returning players, all of whom are loaded with experience and talent and all of whom, according to coach Sandy Sutherland, might be in the mix for an individual state title of their own this year.

Lake Oswego's big three this year will consist of Max Carter, Clayton Madey and Adam Ruben.

Carter is the defending district champion and all three have the capability of shooting rounds in the 60s.

"Our top three are all really fine players. They've all improved and all play tournaments all year long," Sutherland said.

Early in the season, there is expected to be a heated battle for the other varsity spots.

Currently six or seven very talented golfers are vying to be the team's No. 4 and No.5 players.

"There's a lot of competition and I think it's going to be like that all season. I'd like to see one or two guys really step up and earn those spots," Sutherland said.

But no matter who plays in those final two spots for the Lakers this year, the team is going to be formidable once again and a strong contender to possibly repeat as champions.

"It's going to be fun watching them play and to see how low they can go. We're all really excited," Sutherland said.

Lake Oswego will begin league tournaments as soon as school resumes following Spring Break.

The Three Rivers League should be exceptionally strong once again with West Linn, Lakeridge and Canby all fielding talented squads.

"I hope we get off to a little stronger start than we did last year but I think it's going to be a really fun season in our league," Sutherland said.

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The Lake Oswego girls team returns four players to its varsity squad this year including two who qualified for state last season.

The Lakers will be led by Kelsey Moede, a scratch golfer who should be among the best in the league.

She will be followed by Alexa Huewe, a very talented player who qualified for state last season as a freshman and Danica Gazzigli who narrowly missed going to state and has plenty of varsity experience.

"Those three can go low for us. The key is going to be our No. 4," coach Mark Shoff said.

Stephanie Bell is also back for Lake Oswego and played in multiple varsity events last season.

And a new freshman to the team, Jessica Lee, has also been impressive early, firing the team's second lowest score at the recent West Linn Invitational.

While the Lakers are a relatively young squad this season, they are also one of the more experienced teams in the league.

And, once again, the Three Rivers League figures to be extremely difficult this year.

West Linn is the defending state champion and is perhaps even stronger this year. Lakeridge will be formidable again and Canby joins the league and brings two very talented golfers into the fray.

"Our league is the toughest in the state and it's too bad because there are going to be some kids who shoot in the low to mid 80s who might not qualify," Shoff said.

It should be a dogfight for that second team berth at state this year and the Lakers hope they will be the team that comes out on top.

The weather has wreaked havoc on practice early in the season but, once Lake Oswego gets some rounds under its belt, the team should be very strong.

"The key for us is just getting out and playing right now," Shoff said.

Lake Oswego will play its first league tournament on Monday at Willamette Valley Country Club.