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Viking golfers enjoying renaissance

GOLF: Forest Grove finds itself in the midst of one of the best seasons in school history

Forest Grove golf is enjoying a rebirth of sorts.

The Vikings - powered by a freshman and several other unheralded youngsters - are playing some of the best golf that veteran head coach Ron Romanick can remember, and they just might be on the verge of making some noise at this year's Pacific Conference district tournament, set for May 7-8 at the Tukwila Golf Course in Woodburn.

"As well as we're doing, we haven't played our best yet," Romanick said. "There's still room to improve. If we can find a day when we all come out and play well, we can push the 300 mark. Hopefully that day will come at district."

Freshman Jarek Swanson has been Forest Grove's most consistent golfer this year, winning medalist honors at the Sprague Invitational on April 6 at Illahee Hills Golf Course and tying for second place at Forest Grove's home Pacific Conference match at Forest Hills Golf Course.

At Illahee Hills, Swanson attacked a tough course and finished with a round of 77, one of only two sub-80 performances on the day. Prior to that showing, Swanson fired a blistering 1-under 71 at Forest Hills to tie Tigard's Brad Prince and Tualatin's Todd Vrooman for second place at the conference match.

Swanson's performance at Forest Hills keyed the Vikings' fourth-place team finish with a score of 309, just two shots off the school record. Senior Mike Vandebergh contributed a brilliant round of 75, followed by junior Joe Strother's 81 and sophomore Luke Peters' 82.

Tualatin won that match with a 292 team score, but just 15 points separated third from fifth place.

"There's not a lot of separation between the second- and fifth-place teams in our league," Romanick said.

The Vikings have the rest of the week to practice, but a brutal stretch of schedule awaits. Next Monday the team will travel to Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby for a conference match, followed by a large, college-style tournament on Wednesday at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis.

After that, the Vikings will prepare for their annual trip to southern Oregon for the Forest Grove Invitational at Tokatee Golf Club.

Check out next week's edition of the News-Times for more information about the Forest Grove boys golf team.