Tee it high and let it fly
BOYS GOLF: Jesuit and Sunset are favored to win berths to 6A state in 2007
If nothing else, the Metro League boys golf coaches agree on three things - Jesuit is the 2007 favorite, the remaining order is anyone's guess and the opening tournament at RedTail is not indicative of the season's expectations.
A tough course combined with difficult conditions led to scores that didn't sit well with the trimmed-down Metro. The Crusaders won with a 319 in what might have been the league's best chance to clip last year's state runner-up, that feature a lineup filled with players who can shoot in the mid-70s.
'I'm looking for Jesuit to win the state title,' Beaverton coach Brad Harvey said. 'I think they're going to dominate. Nobody's close to them.'
Sunset was in the March 19 opener, though, finishing three strokes back of Jesuit and 15 ahead of third-place Southridge. Metro coaches expect those two teams, plus Westview and Beaverton, to contend for the league's second state berth and another high finish at this year's state tournament at the OGA Golf Course in Woodburn.
The league has produced five top-five finishes at state in the last three years with Jesuit and Westview going 2-3 last spring.
'The great thing about our league is there is no easy week,' Jesuit coach Jay Minsker said. 'The league schedule has to be one of the best in the state. You just don't know how it's going to go.'
And that could lead to an interesting season in which the standings are shuffled each week - at least shuffled behind the Crusaders, that is.
'Jesuit will clearly be the
favorite,' Sunset coach Brian Kienlen said. But the rest of the league, 'you never know week to week.'
'I see Jesuit as the elite program again,' Westview coach Tim Hall said. 'They're just loaded. They had a bad day at RedTail and still won by three. Sunset will be our archrival this year for the second spot. Southridge will battle and could make a difference.'
Following are previews of the boys golf teams at the six Metro League high schools.
ALOHA - While Aloha might struggle to escape the cellar in the six-team Metro that features no slouches, that isn't to suggest the Warriors haven't made strides within the program and on the links.
Getting the team to believe as much, however, will be the key for a deeper Aloha team then recent years.
'This is probably the first time I've had 12 guys that can play next to each other,' said Ed Duenez, who enters his fourth year as the Warriors' coach. 'These kids are committed to working on their game and it's starting to show. I think we'll surprise some people.'
Junior Kyle Memmott enters his third season as Aloha's top player and tied for medalist honors in the first Metro tournament after shooting a 75 at RedTail.
'He's a solid player,' Duenez said. 'He's great off the tee and can hit every club in his bag. He has a lot of stuff going for him.'
Duenez expects the Warriors' No. 2 player, senior Alex Kelley, to join Memmott in the 70s. Senior Chris Carlson did not play in the league opener when Aloha placed sixth with a 357, but will fill the No. 3 spot this season. All three are returning varsity players.
Freshman Kyle Johnson has been a 'pleasant surprise' for Duenez, who said that Aloha's No. 4 player is 'consistent as heck.'
Duenez expects a handful of golfers to rotate through the final varsity spot, including senior Eric Feuymanizong, who returns after two years off, juniors Justin Ashby and Tyler Dardis, as well as sophomores Brice Martin, Trevor Bowen and Evan Davis.
And it should only get better.
'We need to step up and get some competitiveness with experience,' Duenez said. 'The kids don't believe in themselves yet, but the confidence will grow. We're going to turn the corner.'
BEAVERTON - If Beaverton intends to contend for a state berth, they'll first have to beat a trickier foe then the rest of the Metro - their own bad luck.
The Beavers return five varsity players off last year's team, but lost their No. 1 the day before practice started when senior Taylor Boudreau broke his wrist snowboarding.
Beaverton coach Brad Harvey hopes to have the team's top returner back within three weeks.
'Taylor was on the verge of breaking through and becoming a low-70s player,' Harvey said. 'He's consistent and willing to work hard to get it done.'
Junior Charlie Strand is filling the top spot in Boudreau's stead (and may on his return), posting the Beavers' best score in the league opener with an 82.
'Charlie's going to be a really good player,' Harvey said. 'I think he has a chance to go to state as an individual if we don't make it as a team.'
Senior Andy Norris played No. 2 for the Beavers at RedTail, but had his own setback with a recent bout of mononucleosis, which drained his strength.
'He's swinging the best I've ever seen him,' Harvey said. 'He hits the ball a mile and is advancing very quickly.'
Sophomore Christian Boudreau also returns on varsity and is playing No. 3 with his brother out. Junior Joe Thompson and senior Eric Erice currently round out the lineup, while sophomore transfer Antony Gallagher could also push for time.
After the tough start, Harvey expects his tight-knit group to get better upon the return of Taylor Boudreau and Norris' improved health.
'I really thought we'd have a chance to make a run at second or third and be a quality team that can shoot under 310,' Harvey said. 'When we get back to full strength, I think we'll be right in the mix.'
BEAVERTON - Jesuit opened its defense of the Metro title by winning the first league tournament, but was far from pleased with its effort, spelling nothing but trouble for those hoping to dethrone the Crusaders.
'Our first tournament was a little shaky,' said coach Jay Minsker, who's led Jesuit to state nine of the last 10 years. 'The kids are definitely not happy with how they played and the scores were indicative of that.'
The Crusaders won with a 319, but Minsker believes his crew would be better served around 300. With a plethora of players capable of breaking 75, Jesuit is a formidable unit one through five and then some.
'My goal for the kids is to shoot 75 or lower,' Minsker said. 'If four guys do that, there's not too many teams that will beat you at 300. Plus, if one guy shoots 80, we have others that can pick him up and shoot 72.'
The Crusaders feature a trio of players at the top, all of which are leading contenders for medalist honors week to week. Junior Jeff Petroff, senior Sean Collopy and junior Sam Kloenne are the 'core of the team,' according to Minsker. A group that includes junior Ryan Marx, senior Tony Moneta and sophomore Jake Coleman are engaged in a strong competition with a crop of sophomores and freshmen for the final two varsity spots.
The team has qualifiers Wednesdays and Thursdays with those golfers that shoot 75 or less in league meets automatically maintaining their varsity slot.
'We're competing three days a week,' Minsker said. 'They know qualifying is a dogfight every week. The opportunity needs to be there to motivate the younger players.'
That may mean someone loses a spot, though the seasoned top-three will be hard-pressed to knock off. Petroff and Kloenne, who missed the first league match after playing in a national tournament, finished ninth and 10th at last year's state meet, while Collopy was 19th.
Collopy is in his fourth varsity season and is very methodical, according to Minsker.
'He's a grinder,' he said. 'I know what I'll get from him. He's probably our most consistent player.'
Minsker considers Kloenne to be 'one of the best I've had in my program.' The key to Kloenne's round is a strong start and putting.
'As the first hole goes, that's how Sam's day is going to be,' Minsker said. 'If he gets his putter going, he'll shoot below par for that day.'
As good as Collopy and Kloenne are, Petroff is the one Minsker considers to 'probably have the brightest future of any of my players.'
While acknowledging they'll be picked to win the league, Minsker knows it will take more than that to remain on top.
'Hopefully we'll be the most consistent team,' he said. 'As long as the guys stay focused, we'll have a good shot to finish in the top 2 or 3 (at state) this year.'
BEAVERTON - If there was a year for Southridge to earn its first state berth since 2001, this is as good as any. The Skyhawks feature five seniors that could fill the varsity lineup and a solid group of juniors pushing to keep that from happening.
Michael Zahler and Blake Bowman head the crew of seniors, which also includes Brett Tohlen, Kevin Quiring and Chris Charbonnier. Juniors Spencer Barnes, Lamar Prince and Nicholas Kaminski are vying for a spot in the top-five, giving Southridge eight players returning with varsity experience.
Freshman Zach Vonderach adds to the mix, affording coach Joel Morgan the healthy problem of too many able bodies.
'They're definitely keeping the senior guys on their toes,' Morgan said. 'Anyone of the seniors can post rounds in the 70s. The others are in the low 80s but can break out and score 70s.'
Zahler earned second team all-league honors last year, while Bowman led the team with a 78 in the first league math, which didn't go quite as expected.
'We were all a little disappointed,' Morgan said of the team's third-place 337. 'My guys definitely have the potential to challenge.'
If Southridge doesn't qualify for state as a team, Morgan believes Zahler, who has been on varsity since his sophomore season, and Bowman, a four-year varsity player, will be strong candidates to do so as individuals.
'They immersed themselves in golf, which has really benefited them,' Morgan said. 'They stay focused on their game and are willing to help the younger players.'
Tohlen's game 'has come together,' according to Morgan, who added he 'hits the ball a long, long way,' while he sees Quiring's improved play benefiting the team and extra practice time being a key to the emergence of Charbonnier.
CEDAR MILL - A trio at the top helped Sunset gain an early edge in the league standings with a runner-up finish in the Metro opener. The key to the Apollos maintaining that spot is getting two more players with respectable rounds.
'The top-three guys played like I expected,' Sunset coach Brian Kienlen said. 'We've got to get someone in the fourth and fifth spot around 80 to 82, then we'll be pretty competitive.'
Senior Travis Lloyd tied for medalist honors at the first league tournament with a 75 - his best match score. Juniors Tyler Parker and Logan Gerritz placed 7th and 8th, respectively, for Sunset, which finished three strokes behind defending champ Jesuit despite an 89 for its fourth score.
'If we get an 85, we might have beaten Jesuit,' Kienlen said. 'That's one we could've got because they're pretty solid.'
As is the Apollos' Nos. 1 through 3, which will again be led by Parker, who earned first team all-league honors last year and qualified for state.
'He's got an excellent golf swing and is mentally tough,' Kienlen said.
Lloyd battled through a swing change last year and has improved dramatically, according to Kienlen.
'The changes between now and freshman year have been night and day,' Kienlen said. 'It's pretty impressive.'
Kienlen said Gerritz has also 'really improved his game,' while No. 4 Graham Kim, a sophomore, 'hits the ball pretty darn well. He just needs to learn to be more consistent.'
Sunset's No. 5 spot was filled by senior Allen Nicol in the first league meet, while senior Derek Leahy and sophomore Cole Pataysian are also pushing to fill the final varsity position.
ROCK CREEK - Westview graduated five players and returns just two from last year's team which placed third at state. But that doesn't mean a return trip is out of the realm of possibility.
The Wildcats will be young
with just one senior, but coach Tim Hall feels they're still capable of earning the school's third state berth in his four seasons.
'It will depend on the inexperienced guys and how quickly they rise to the occasion,' Hall said. 'This will be my biggest challenge. I'm very much looking forward to it.'
Juniors John Abercrombie and Josh Barth played at last year's state meet and have worked with Hall for five years, starting in juniors programs at Rock Creek Country Club. The pair give Hall a strong 1-2 punch.
'John strikes the ball as well as a pro. Very Hogan-esque. It's special,' Hill said. 'Josh is pound-for-pound as long as anybody I've known. He's 5-11, maybe 6-0, and 130 pounds, yet he puts on a show at any driving range he goes to because you can't believe how far he hits it.'
After that, it's a scramble.
'I have two horses and they're still wet behind the ears,' he said. 'That's why (2007) will be wild.'
No. 3 Sam Olsen is the team's lone senior, while as many as seven players will contend for the final two spots.
'That's the bright spot is how deep we are at this point,' Hall said. 'Four through 10 could all be interchangeable. There's quite a bit of talent, but not a lot of tournament experience.'
That group includes freshmen Harry Chang and Gabe Ellis, junior Sean Daoud, and sophomores Miah Barth and Eui In Hong.
Daoud is 'as long as anybody in the conference,' according to Hall, while Chang and Ellis are quite the interesting pair.
For now, the Wildcats will be learning on the fly after starting the season by placing fourth in the league opener.
'Our season hasn't started yet,' Hall said. 'It begins next week.'