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Boys Golf: Lions close best season in program history

Led by senior Eric Aldridge, the Lions outlasted Cleveland for 9th at the Class 5A State Championships, their best finish in boys' program history


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Junior Michael Hewlett chips out of a bunker near the green on the 18th hole at Quail Valley Golf Course, nearing halfway through with his second round of the Class 5A state tournament. Hewlett shot an 86 on Tuesday, helping the Lions to secure a 9th place finish.Playing against more experienced teams and starting first thing in the morning, the Lions knew the deck was stacked against them. St. Helens hadn't been to a state championship in golf in over 21 years, and had spent much of their season playing on wet courses that forced them to use winter rules, not the standard used for the state finals.

But somehow, despite the odds, the Lions had wormed their way into eighth place after the first day, leading Crescent Valley by a point with 18 holes in the books.

Midway through the second round on Tuesday morning, things didn't look good. The Lions had dropped in the standings after nine holes at 31 over as a team. St. Helens was slated to start on the back nine, and several golfers struggled with the 14th hole, a difficult par four that forces players to hit the fairway between two rows of trees, hop around a water obstacle and hit the green without letting the ball roll back to the water or into the sand guarding the western end.

The Lions saw another ball jump in the brush on the 15th hole, and lost a ball in the deep rough at hole 18.

Luckily, the second half of the round was miles better, and as the day went on, St. Helens found their form once again, shooting a 350 to stay just inches ahead of Cleveland for 9th place at the state championships. It's the best finish at the state tournament in school history, ahead of the 13th place finish in 1993. The team finished 6-4 in that season, including 4-1 in Cowapa League play.

This group of Lions drove a sight further. Senior Eric Aldridge led the team, shooting a 169 at the tournament. Junior Michael Hewlett was just behind him with a 171, and senior Cody Teyema's 173 was good for third among the St. Helens' contingent. Jacob Roxey, who led the Lions to a win over Wilsonville at the district competition, finished with a 175, while sophomore Jordan Roark came in with a score of 180.

According to head coach Dave Lawrence, it was a fresh challenge for the team to switch from winter rules to summer rules for the state tournament. When the course is wet, rules allow golfers to move the ball up to six inches to get around tricky, squishy or barren spots in the fairway to improve their lie.

The teams from the eastern side of the mountains – Bend, Summit, Hermiston, Pendelton and the like, all of which finished in the top seven – play with ‘summer rules' year round due to the extended sunshine. Even teams like Crescent Valley and West Albany, who hail from the southern end of the Willamette valley, often have better weather to play in than those in the Portland Metro area, including Sherwood.

The Bowmen, who entered as a favorite to win the state title after winning the tournament preview last week against many of the Class 6A powerhouses, finished in a tie with Summit for second place with 627 points. Bend, thanks to three scores of 75 or fewer on the first day, won the championship with a score of 617. Sophomore Kevin Genzia of Crescent Valley won the competition with a three-over 147, hitting par on the first day and shooting a 75 on the second.

SUMMARY

St. Helens (688)

12 Eric Aldridge 84 85 – 169

11 Michael Hewlett 85 86 – 171

12 Cody Teyema 85 88 – 173

11 Jacob Roxey 84 91 – 175

10 Jordan Roark 87 93 – 180

TEAM SCORES

Bend 617

Sherwood 627

Summit 627

West Albany 629

Marist 649

Hermiston 662

Pendleton 663

Crescent Valley 671

St. Helens 688

Cleveland 689

Churchill 700

Wilson 732