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Grant, Lincoln could tie for tops

Prep Focus • Fueled by Sills and Chu, girls golf is too close to call in PIL 6A
by: ©2008 Eric Yaillen, Lincoln’s Avery Sills (top) finished ahead of Grant’s Michelle Chu at mid-district but matched her score Monday.

Lincoln and Grant are so close in PIL 6A girls golf this spring, it could take a sudden-death playoff to decide the district champion.

The defending champ Cardinals, led by 2007 co-state medalist Avery Sills, lead Grant by one point with a league match Wednesday and the May 2 district tournament remaining.

If Lincoln shoots the lower score next week at Eastmoreland, the Cardinals would increase their lead to three points -but Grant could force a tie by beating Lincoln at district, where a win is worth three points.

If the teams finish all square, each would send its five golfers back out onto the Rose City course for a sudden-death playoff. The low four scores from each team would be counted, hole by hole, until one team claims the season title.

Going into Wednesday, Grant is 2-1 against Lincoln in dual meets (each team gets two points for a dual victory). But Lincoln picked up three points on Grant when it nipped the Generals by four shots at the April 11 mid-district tournament.

'We're definitely having some drama already this year,' Lincoln coach Bobbi Breslin says.

Grant's win last week over Lincoln came while Sills was absent - she was on the road, placing an impressive third in an American Junior Golf Tournament event in Texas. But the Generals might have prevailed, anyway, as they finished 21 strokes better than the Cards.

Three freshmen are coming on for Lincoln, including Kaija Perkiomaki, who recently got out of a cast after breaking her left thumb playing soccer, and Lauren Hval, whose father, Scott, was the 1997 Oregon Amateur champion out of Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

Grant has a freshman in the lineup, too. Khristine Vail has given coach Missy Smith six players competing for the five spots available in each tournament. 'The extra player means the girls are pushing each other harder this year,' Smith says.

Grant senior Michelle Chu finished second to Sills at mid-district (she shot an 84 to Sills' 75 at Eastmoreland) but has gone as low as 79, at Heron Lakes, this spring. And on Monday, Chu matched Sills at 81 at Rose City, as Lincoln edged the Generals by five shots.

• Cleveland seniors Caroline Bader and Anna Norman finished 1-2 at mid-district for the Warriors, who have clinched a repeat 5A girls title.

Boys golf

Cleveland is cutting it close.

After two players were disqualified from the mid-district tournament for rules violations, the Warriors have gone from state tournament shoo-in to needing a clean finish to earn the second spot from PIL 5A.

The Warriors had figured to cruise to their second straight league championship, but Madison now has an insurmountable lead.

Cleveland came away empty-handed at the April 11 mid-district at RedTail. Sophomore Jonathan Menashe, one of the top players in the league, was disqualified after taking illegal relief from a sand trap, and freshman Nick Price was DQ'd after errantly replacing his marked ball on the greens.

'Now we have to win out, more or less, to get to state,' coach Geoff Richman says.

Odds are the Warriors will do it. Their other three players - sophomore Jeff Wall, junior Conor Logan and sophomore Michael Mackin - finished 1-2-3, in that order, at mid-district, shooting 80, 82 and 85. Menashe came back last week with a 77 at Eastmoreland in one of the weekly league matches.

• Price is relatively new to golf and apparently didn't even realize that he bears the same name as the three-time major championship pro from Zimbabwe.

'Now I'm waiting for Nick Faldo to come to Cleveland,' Richman quips.

• In PIL 6A, the Lincoln boys lead Grant, and those teams probably will go to state 1-2. The Cardinals, however, are not expected to have two players there. Seniors Jamie Stambler and Taylor Soper have International Baccalaureate tests that conflict with the May 12 and May 13 state tourney at Trysting Tree in Corvallis.

Stambler finished second at mid-district. He was 1-under par before a quadruple bogey on the 15th led to a 3-over 75 at RedTail.

Lincoln sophomore Tom Hanacek's 74 was the low score of the day. Defending district champ Will Guitteau, a Grant sophomore, was third at 77. Cardinal senior Adam Perkiomaki took fourth at 78.

Lincoln's depth showed last week, when freshman James Demopoulos, son of Trail Blazer assistant coach Dean Demopoulos, led the Generals with a 75 at Eastmoreland, and Michael Green carded a 77.