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All four Pacer, Laker golf teams eyeing state

Golf

If the Lake Oswego boys and girls golf teams find themselves at the top of the leader board after today's first round of the district tournament, they can almost stay home and skip tomorrow's second round - and still qualify for the state tournament.

That just shows how far in front both teams are in the league standings following the final regular-season tournament, which was held Monday at Oregon Golf Club in West Linn.

Just for the record, neither team plans to skip the second round of the district tournament, which is being held at Stone Creek Golf Course in Oregon City. But both teams are well aware of the fact that they are comfortably in first place, and even a major slip-up probably won't be enough to keep them from qualifying for state.

To be in such good position, both teams obviously had to play very well during the regular season. And they did.

The Lake Oswego boys won all six of the league tournaments this season while the Lake Oswego girls won five of six events.

But they aren't the only hot teams in town. Crosstown rival Lakeridge will most likely be the league's other representative at state in both boys and girls golf. In fact, the Lakeridge boys finished second in all six of this year's league tournaments. On the girls side, the Pacers were second five times and finished first last week, the one time the Lakers slipped a notch.

All in all, the four local golf teams could not be playing much better.

'Short of jinxing the whole thing … we're feeling really confident,' Lake Oswego boys coach Chris Sheik said after his team won Monday's regular-season finale by a 310 to 318 margin over Lakeridge.

That 310 score was actually one of the higher tallies for the Lake Oswego boys in recent weeks. But the Oregon Golf Club is one of the toughest courses in the Portland area. It's currently playing at a very difficult 130 slope rating.

For the first time in a while, Kevin Gay was not the medalist for a TRL tournament. This time it was teammate Elliot Marshall who led the pack. He fired a 1-over-par 73, marking his third consecutive week with a round in the low 70s.

But Gay was next in line for the Lakers with a 78. He was even par with five holes to play and then finished the round six over.

Chris Metcalf gave the Lakers a third player in the 70s with his 79. It marked his first league tournament with a score under 80. Matt Montpas followed with an 80, which broke a string of five consecutive rounds in the 70s. And Jake Sullivan shot an 83 but that score did not figure in Lake Oswsego's total.

The lineup Sheik used on Monday will be the one he'll use in the first round of the district tournament today, and four of them - Gay, Marshall, Montpas and Sullivan - have league averages in the 70s. Metcalf is not far behind with an 82.4 average.

With those numbers, Sheik likes his team's chances to win both rounds of the district tournament, especially since the Lakers have a history of playing well at Stone Creek.

'They're really focused on their goal,' the coach said. 'I think we'll come through.'

Even the competition for Lake Oswego's alternate spots has been brutal. Through the first nine holes of this week's 27-hole qualifier, Tim Lemman led the way with a 38. That followed the 78 he shot at last week's county tournament. Dan O'Brien, playing in his varsity match ever, shot a 79 in the county event.

The Lakeridge boys, meanwhile, have been almost as hot as the Lakers have been in recent weeks. The Pacers got a big boost on Monday from Kevin Craig, who turned in the tournament's second-best score with a 76. It was also Craig's best score of the year.

Lakeridge coach Jason Wold said he saw a good score coming from Craig, who shot a 70 the day before at Columbia Edgewater. And his 76 at OGC could have been better if not for a couple of three-putts, Wold said.

'I think a 76 on (Oregon Golf Course) was a very good score,' the coach said.

The Pacers' Matt Kitto followed with a 79, giving him one of only five scores 70s that day. Troy Douglass had Lakeridge's third-best score with an 81, marking the first time in a month he had been out of the 70s.

The Pacers also got an 83 from George Lin and an 87 from Ben Saulson, but his score was not used in Lakeridge's total.

Wold isn't too worried about catching the Lakers in the standings, not with just two rounds of golf left to play.

'I don't expect much to change at districts,' he said. 'But I don't want to focus on LO … I can't worry about other teams.'

The Lake Oswego girls, meanwhile, are on the verge of capturing their first league title since 1991 when they shared the crown with Lakeridge. But the Laker girls haven't won an outright league championship since 1978.

The Laker girls have been almost untouchable this year thanks partly to the play of sophomore Amy Beth Simanton. Once again she was the league medalist when she fired a 39 at Oregon Golf Club.

This time, though, it looked like Simanton might lose the top spot to Lakeridge's Taylor Babcock, who wound up second with a 40. But Simanton birdied the last two holes to squeak out the victory.

Simanton also got plenty of help from her teammates as Lise Andersen shot a 42 while Nathalie Krauth had a 47 and Deanna Ulrich chipped in with a 51. That was more than enough to give the Lakers a 179 to 199 advantage over second-place Lakeridge.

'I was very pleased,' Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff said of his team's play. 'Last week (when the Lakers lost to Lakeridge) was a wake-up call. I think they took the next week of practice more seriously … They showed (Monday) that they could be mentally tough.'

Last year, the Lake Oswego just missed out on a trip to state, but Simanton qualified as an individual after winning the district tournament. She started this season saying she wanted to take the whole team with her this time.

'It's been our goal to win it,' Shoff said of the league title. 'I don't see any way they can't win if they show up and play well.'

While the Lake Oswego girls have been steady most of the season, their Lakeridge counterparts have probably made the most improvement in the league during the last month.

After a slow start to the season, 'I didn't think we'd be here at this point,' Lakeridge coach Sandy Sutherland said. 'But here we are. It's been a very impressive season … And I've had a bunch of great girls to work with.'

They didn't do anything to change Sutherland's mind on Monday, either. It helps having someone like Babcock, a sophomore, lead the way.

'Taylor is just playing really solid golf,' the coach said. 'She's just a few chips and putts away from (consistently) being in the 70s.'

On Monday, Babcock was followed by Kelly Kirk with a 51 while Kelly Taucher had a 52 and Melissa Dussin contributed a 56.