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Liberty girls return three state qualifiers, and boys have four players coming back

What the Liberty girls golf team lacks in quantity it could well make up for in quality this season.

Only five players turned out for golf this spring — though that number is one greater than in 2012 — but three of them are returners with state tournament experience, which should come in handy during the championship portion of the season.

“We should be pretty solid,” Liberty coach Stuart Kivett said. “My No. 1, 2 and 3 players … they’ve got a lot of experience, and they’re just really super neat ladies and they’re very motivated on their own.”

Those top three Kivett referenced are McKenzie Oster and sisters Sam and Stephanie Miller, who all are back after helping Liberty win its fourth consecutive Northwest Oregon Conference title and fifth state berth in as many years in 2012.

The Falcons charged from behind on the second day of the district tournament to knock off first-day leader Wilsonville by a single point in the modified stableford scoring system.

At the Class 5A girls state tournament at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis last spring, Sam Miller tied for seventh place, Oster tied for 15th, and Stephanie Miller was 27th.

The trio helped the Falcons end the first day in fifth place as a team, but a shot at a team trophy was derailed when the fourth and final member of Liberty’s squad (four players are necessary to record a team score) became ill on the night between rounds and was unable to play the next day.

This season, Kivett expects Sam Miller, a senior, and Oster, a junior, to provide the squad with a strong one-two punch, though he noted that Oster might be a bit rusty in the season’s early going after coming off of basketball season.

As for Liberty’s fourth and fifth players, Amanda Takara is a sophomore transfer from St. Helens who Kivett said has a year’s worth of golf experience under her belt, while Elaina Maki is completely new to the sport but is “learning very quickly” and is a “natural athlete.”

“Without a doubt, we’ll have a couple of girls, at least, make it to the state tournament, I’m sure,” Kivett noted. “But I think there’s a very good chance that as a team we’ll make it again. You just never know what the other teams are bringing to the dance.”

As for the Liberty boys, Jesse Simonsen, Jon Grossen, Trevor Lane and Austin Sitton all enter the 2013 season with varsity experience, but the roster also includes six freshmen.

Coach Doug Girod said that his squad — third in the conference tournament in 2012 — expects to wind up in the upper half of the NWOC and has a goal of qualifying for state.

Simonsen started the season in fine form by tying for medalist honors in Monday’s NWOC tournament at Wildwood Golf Course in Portland. Sherwood breezed to victory with a score of 321, while the Falcons were third, only three shots behind St. Helens.

By amanda miles

Hillsboro Tribune

The 2013 season has all the indications of being a standout one for the Glencoe boys golf team — experience, talent, numbers.

Last season, Glencoe took second place to Tualatin in the Pacific Conference championships and went on to place 11th as a team in the Class 6A state tournament.

The five varsity members of that squad — Connor Tripp (tie for 69th place at state), Jared Duvall (tie for 29th), Ethan Zickel (tie for 51st), Nick Karich (75th) and Hayden Vetter (state qualifier) — all return this year, Glencoe coach Tim Duvall said.

“We are very excited and optimistic about our season because we have them all coming back,” Duvall said of his top five. “And we feel like if we play the way we’re capable of playing, we should have another good year this year.”

Even from the first week of practice, the team appears primed for competition. During the Tide’s three-day “qualifying tournament,” from which the 10-player squad was eventually selected, Tripp and Jared Duvall, Tim Duvall’s son, wound up tied for first after 27 holes of play, as were Zickel and Karich for third.

“The top five kids, golf is their No. 1 thing,” Duvall said. “They’ve all put time in over the summer.”

Like the Tide boys, Glencoe’s girls also made state in 2012, finishing 10th. But this year’s squad will be sporting a different look, as the Tide’s top two finishers at state a year ago, Maggie Harlow and Erin Evers, have graduated, and basketball star Marly Anderson, now a senior, has elected not to turn out this season.

The Tide’s fourth golfer from 2012, Becca Collins, does return and coach Mark Ferris said she is the team’s top player. Collins finished 75th at state last year.

Junior Chelsea Plinke is back on the squad after missing last season while being an exchange student in France. Freshman Debbie Yuhanna and first-year players Kaitland Kirwin (a junior) and Caroline Smith (a sophomore) will also play for the Tide this year.

Century boys golf coach Claude Landauer said that his team enters this season with a dearth of tournament experience, but the good news is that the squad has numbers.

In Colson Gower — a senior whom Landauer said he expects to make the state tournament — and Jordan Scheffer, Century has two returners with varsity experience. Two other players with JV experience are back, and eight newbies are giving high school golf a try this season.

Among the other Hillsboro-area programs, Hilhi’s Breann Nielsen participated as an individual in the 6A girls tournament in 2012, taking 65th place.

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