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Simanton shares state golf title

by: Vern Uyetake, 
Lake Oswego’s Amy Beth Simanton eyes a putt during last week’s district tournament. Simanton followed a victory in that event by sharing medalist honors at this week’s state tournament. The Lakers were sixth in the team competition.

Sports Editor

Typically, Lake Oswego's Amy Beth Simanton shoots in the mid-70s in a competitive round of golf. So it was somewhat surprising that Simanton shot an 82 and an 80 at the two-day state tournament this week. And yet, it was still good enough for Simanton to share state medalist honors with Lincoln's Avery Sills.

That capped a great tournament week for five local golf teams. That included a fourth-place finish for the Lake Oswego boys team and a state 3A title for the Westside Christian boys team. In addition, the Lakeridge boys finished 10th in the 6A tournament. On the girls side, Lake Oswego finished sixth while Lakeridge was 11th.

Clearly, the highlight was the play of Simanton, who is just a sophomore. But she felt she had knocked herself out of the running for the individual title after a triple bogey on the 12th hole at the OGA course in Woodburn.

A short time later, though, a photographer notified Lake Oswego coach Mark Shoff that Simanton was actually leading the tournament. Shoff said he wanted to say something to Simanton after realizing that she was still depressed following the triple bogey on No. 12.

Then, after carding a bogey on No. 16, Simanton said she felt like she had already given the tournament away. So, Shoff intervened and advised his star pupil that she was in the lead. All she had to do was maintain her composure, the coach said.

'You could just see her eyes light up,' Shoff said.

Simanton then went on to par the last two holes, giving her a two-day score of 162. Of course, that was the same total as Sills, who was playing in a group an hour behind the Lake Oswego player. Simanton could have won the tournament outright but left a birdie putt on No. 17 about one inch short.

Shoff felt all season long that Simanton was capable of winning the state title, and he even said so publicly. That's a lot of pressure to put on someone so young, but if anyone could handle it, Simanton could, Shoff said.

'And I think she can still get better,' the coach said. 'She can improve her short game even though it's already pretty good … She always finds a way to get up and down. And that's a gift that not everyone has.'

Shoff also was excited to see the way his team played as a whole. The Lakers' second-best score was turned in by Nathalie Krauth, who registered a 98-86 for a 184 total. Those were also high scores for Krauth, but they were still good enough for 21st place in a field of 91 golfers.

Lakeridge's Taylor Babcock was another two spots back with a 186 total.

The Lake Oswego boys, meanwhile, claimed a fourth-place trophy after recovering from a slow start in Monday's opening round.

'Outside of that front nine (on Monday), we played well,' coach Chris Sheik said.

The Lakers were led by Chris Metcalf, who followed a first-day 79 with a 2-under-par 70 on Tuesday. That put Metcalf in a four-way tie for ninth place - a group that also included Lakeridge's Kevin Craig. With their top-10 finish, both players wound up making the state's all-tourney team.

With a better opening nine holes on Monday, Metcalf conceivably could have made a run at medalist honors. After his 44 on that first nine, Metcalf followed with nines of 35, 37 and 33. His run included an eagle on the par-5 14th on Monday and then he birdied it the next day.

Matt Montpas, who was the only Lake Oswego golfer to shoot in the 30s in Monday's opening nine, finished the tournament one shot behind Metcalf and wound up in a tie for 14th.

Kevin Gay, who was the TRL's player of the year, shook off an opening-day 80 and carded a second-round 74. That put him in a tie for 22nd.

Going into the tournament, Sheik felt his team had a decent chance to win the state title. 'But we knew we would have to play our best both days,' he said.

It was interesting to note that the three teams that finished ahead of Lake Oswego were the only teams that beat the Lakers during the regular season. At a season-opening tournament, the Lakers finished third behind Sheldon and Jesuit, which wound up winning the state title. Then at the Clackamas County tournament two weeks ago, Lake Oswego took second behind Canby, which finished third at state.

At least Lake Oswego got a trophy at state, which was the main goal as the start of the season.

'It was an exciting and rewarding year with a lot of good golf,' Sheik said.

It was also a great year for the Westside Christian team, which often shot scores this year that were comparable to the Lake Oswego boys. While grouped with teams from the 3A, 2A and 1A levels, Westside really had only competitor for this year's title. That was McKenzie, which had a four-shot lead over Westside after the first day of play at the Stone Creek course in Oregon City.

But it was all Westside on Day 2 as the Eagles bested McKenzie by 18 strokes. That gave Westside its second straight state title.

The Eagles were paced by senior Eric Grimberg, who won medalist honors with his two-day score of 150. Teammate Trevor Harding was fifth with a 155 total.