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Tigers, Wolves ready to battle it out

Boys golf: The two teams both have their sights set on a berth to the state tournament
by: DAN BROOD, SWEET SWINGS — Tualatin junior Kevo Kirakossian watches his tee shot on hole No. 11 during play Monday at the Pacific Conference tournament held at Forest Hills.

CORNELIUS - Something has to give.

That's because there's likely going to be one Class 6A state team tournament berth available for two teams that are each determined to get it.

On one hand, there's the perennial power Tualatin High School boys golf team that doesn't want to surrender its usual trip to the state tourney. On the other hand, there's the Tigard boys golf squad, which is looking to earn its first-ever team berth to the state tournament.

And, with Canby looking to be the prohibitive favorite to earn the Pacific Conference's No. 1 seed to the state tourney, the No. 2 spot will likely come down to the Tigers and Timberwolves - and it will likely be decided down the road at the league's district tournament.

'It's going to be a dogfight,' Tigard coach Rich Hanson said. 'It's going to come down to whichever team gets it done at district.'

'District will be fun,' first-year Tualatin coach John Gailey said.

The Tigers and Timberwolves showed just how closely matched they are Monday at the Pacific Conference tournament held at Forest Hills Golf Course.

Canby took the top spot at the tourney with a team score of 300 strokes. Tualatin was second at 321 and Tigard placed third, just one shot back of the Wolves at 322. Those results leave Tigard and Tualatin tied for second place in the league standings after two league tournaments.

Junior Arthur Kim led the way for Tigard at Monday's tournament. He placed second individually with a two-over-par 74.

'The front nine didn't go very well,' Kim said. 'I made a couple of crucial birdie putts on the back nine. There's a lot of room for improvement.'

Kim is looking for a big junior year after he tied for third place in the individual standings at the state tournament last year.

'I have real high expectations,' he said. 'It's tough, but I'll reach it.'

Kim is looking for another trip to state and, this year, he's determined that he'll go with his Tigard teammates.

'We are going to do it,' he said. 'We can't make this a hope thing anymore. It would be more special to go as a team - it would be amazing.'

Also for the Tigers on Monday, senior Brad Prince had a round of 81 - and, by his own admission, it could have been a bit better.

On hole No. 18, Prince had a chip shot from 20 yards out roll up and lean against the flagstick but not drop into the cup.

'I had about three of those this round,' Prince said. 'There was a shot out of a bunker and a putt that each sort of just leaned over the hole. Sometimes the golf gods aren't on your side. It wasn't meant to be.'

But, like Kim, Prince says that the Tigers won't be denied a state team berth.

'We've never gone as a team, but this is our year,' he said. 'Our team goal is to beat Tualatin at district.'

Junior Ryan Knolin had a round of 83 for the Tigers on Monday, freshman Mark Jenson shot an 84 and senior Daniel Migas had a round of 93.

Junior Kevo Kirakossian topped the Timberwolves with a score of 78 in Monday's tourney.

'It was a little rough on the front nine, but I was able to straighten things out,' Kirakossian said. 'I had a couple good holes, I almost had a couple of eagles.'

Kirakossian has moved into the No. 1 spot for Tualatin this year and seems to be living up to the position.

'I've definitely made some improvements since last year,' he said. 'And I want to get even lower scores. I'm capable.'

Also for Tualatin on Monday, senior Michael Chizum shot a 79, sophomore Blake Mai had a round of 82, junior Zach Vaughan carded an 82 and junior Tyler Colgan shot an 82. Senior Ian Alford will also see some varsity action for the Wolves this year.

'We're slowly getting better,' Gailey said. 'We're a young team and it's going to be fun to see them grow.'

'There's room for improvement, and we're going to do it,' Kirakossian said.

Canby senior Robbie Ziegler claimed medalist honors at Monday's tourney at Forest Hills with a score of 70.

The next Pacific Conference tournament will be Monday, starting at noon, at Tualatin Country Club.

'I love the home tournament,' Kirakossian said. 'We'll be looking for some low scores out there.'

The Pacific Conference district tournament will be held May 5-6 at the OGA Members Course at Tukwila, located in Woodburn.

'It's going to be fun to see the kids go out there and deal with the pressure at district,' Gailey said.