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Lakers win two district golf titles

by: Vern Uyetake, Lake Oswego’s Matt Montpas, above, follows through on a tee shot during last week’s district tournament at Stone Creek Golf Course. Montpas wound up being the tournament medalist. Leading the way for Lakeridge was Kevin Craig, inset right.

There were few surprises at last week's district golf tournament, unless you count the fact the sun broke through for the latter portion of Friday's second round.

The rest of the time it was cold, windy and wet, which was just a continuation of the first seven weeks of the season. Also holding form were the top teams.

After winning every league tournament during the season, the Lake Oswego boys team followed through by winning the district tourney at one of their favorite courses - Oregon City's Stone Creek Golf Course.

And the Lakeridge boys finished second, just as they did in the previous six league tournaments. But the Pacers made the final margin at district (622 to 627) much closer than many people expected, thanks to a better second-day score than the Lakers shot.

In the girls event, which was also staged at Stone Creek, Lake Oswego followed up a strong regular season by winning the school's first outright district championship in 30 years. Lakeridge, which was the only other legitimate contender for this year's girls title, wound up second - once again.

That means all four of the TRL's representatives at next week's state tournament will be from the Lake Oswego School District. But it's not like any of this happened by surprise. All four of those teams began setting themselves up for this from the first week of the season.

'We did what we set out to do,' Lake Oswego boys coach Chris Sheik said after his team won its second straight league title.

Just as they had done in all the previous league tournaments, the Lakers also had the medalist at district. This time it was Matt Montpas' turn. He shot a 74-77 for a two-day 151 total. Montpas finished one stroke ahead of teammate Kevin Gay, who earlier had won four consecutive league tournaments.

The Lakers held a 12-stroke lead over Lakeridge after the first day of play and the margin could have been even larger. The Lakers were in great shape that day after Montpas posted a 74, Gay had a 76 and Chris Metcalf added a 78. For a while it looked like Jake Sullivan would add another 78 to the cause, but he wound up being disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. That meant the Lakers had to count Elliot Marshall's 82 instead.

It didn't seem like a big deal at time, but it became more of an issue the following day when Lakeridge registered its best score of the season - a 305. That included a 74 by Troy Douglass, a 76 by George Lin, a 77 by Kevin Craig and a 78 by freshman Matt Kitto.

While the Pacers were shooting their best score of the year, Lake Oswego turned in a respectable 312 on the second day. That cut Lake Oswego's cushion for the tournament to five strokes.

'It was a heck of a lot closer than they expected,' Lakeridge coach Jason Wold said of the final margin.

The final margin was almost too close for comfort for the Lakers, but that doesn't change the fact that Lake Oswego was clearly the top team throughout the season.

'We basically dominated all year long,' Sheik said. 'Now we want to see how we do against the best teams in the state.'

Sheik figures Lake Oswego is one of five teams or so that have a shot at the state title. Jesuit seems to be everyone's favorite. Whoever the winner is, that team probably will have to shoot in the low 290s each day to win.

'I'm excited. I think we have a good chance,' Sheik said. 'Our kids are focused and they can deal with the pressure.'

At last year's state tournament, the Lakers had a good first round but they were one of the few teams that went backwards the second day.

'We've got to play great the first day and fabulous the second day,' Sheik said of his team's prospects.

The key for the Lakers is the fact that everyone on the roster is capable of scoring low. Four of them - Gay, Montpas, Marshall and Sullivan - finished the season with scoring averages in the 70s. The fifth player, Metcalf, also is on a roll after shooting a 78 and a 77 last week.

The Pacers boys also are playing their best golf of the year, and the timing couldn't be much better.

'It was a great confidence builder for us going into state,' Wold said after his team's great finish to the district tournament. 'We seem to be putting everything together at the right time.'

For the second week in a row, the Pacers were led by senior Kevin Craig, who shot a 79-77 for a two-day total of 156.

'He's Mr. Consistent,' Wold said of Craig, who has scored in the 70s in four of his last five rounds.

And Craig said he was unhappy with the 77 he shot on Day 2 because he felt he hit the ball well enough to score in the low 70s.

Also registering a pair of scores in the 70s was Kitto, who had a 79-78.

'He has the perfect golf demeanor,' Wold said of Kitto. 'Nothing fazes him.'

Douglass also expected to put a pair of scores in the 70s. His second-day score of 74 tied him for the low round of the tournament. But he coupled that mark with an 83 on the first day. Douglass experienced a similar situation at state last year when he had an average first round and a great second round.

'We need to work on Day 1,' Wold joked.

The Pacers are not expected to win next week's state tournament, but the way they're playing now, a top-six finish wouldn't be out of the question.

'I'm just happy with our steady improvement,' the Lakeridge coach said. 'Hopefully we can keep doing it.'

In the girls district tournament, Lake Oswego found itself in a similar position to the Laker boys after the first day. The Laker girls had a 16-stroke lead heading into Day 2, making it seem like the tournament was all but locked up.

It was no time to celebrate, though, especially when Lakeridge needed only nine holes on Day 2 to close that gap to two strokes.

'We were giving strokes away … But on the back nine we played a lot better,' Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff said.

The Lakers' Amy Beth Simanton played steady the entire tournament. She finished with a 6-over 150 total, which easily made her the tournament medalist. Her closest competitor was Taylor Babcock, who shot a 166.

Simanton is beginning to set herself apart from not just the other golfers in the Three Rivers League but from around the state as well.

'She makes the game look so easy,' Shoff said. 'It will take someone to shoot some real low numbers to beat her (at state).'

Simanton also has some good recent memories of playing at the OGA course in Woodburn, where the state tournament is being held. She shot a 39 (for nine holes) in a practice round there on Tuesday. Two weeks ago, she carded a 74 (for 18 holes) while teammates Nathalie Krauth had an 83 and Lise Andersen shot a 92.

At districts, Krauth and Andersen were playing some of their best golf of the year. Krauth had a two-day total of 182 while Andersen turned in a 187.

'Nathalie is such a natural,' Shoff said. 'And Lise keeps getting better and better.'

Simanton qualified for last year's state tournament as an individual. But this year she wanted the entire team to go and they made it happen.

'I was excited for them … and proud of them,' Shoff said.

The Lakeridge girls were the only TRL team to beat Lake Oswego this season, but Pacers coach Sandy Sutherland wasn't sure if his team was that good early in the season.

'After day one (of preseason practice), I never thought we would make it to state,' Sutherland said.

Now, 'we're looking forward to state,' the coach said.

Somewhere between the beginning of the season and the end of last week, a number of Lakeridge players became solid golfers.

Before this season, Kelly Kirk and Chloe Rossman had never played 18 holes of golf in one outing. They did it on back-to-back days last week and Kirk recorded two rounds in the 90s. And Rossman had a second-round 93, which was the team's third-best score of the tournament.

While Kirk and Rossman were holding their own, it was Babcock and Melissa Dussin who led the way for Lakeridge. Babcock shot rounds of 86 and 80 while Dussin posted a 97-92.

As a team, the Pacers' best score this season is 365.

'If we can throw a couple of those in there (at state), we're in the top 10,' Sutherland predicted.