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Going for the green

Woodburn golf team is carving out its own path this spring


by: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn juniors Julian Kuznetsov (standing above with coach Bill Mickle,) and A.J. Martinez, are helping to put the Bulldog golf team on the map, as the team aims to qualify for the state tournament this May, said boys coach Bill Mickle (above right).Woodburn boys golf is on the rise.

For years, the Bulldogs languished at the bottom of the Mid-Willamette Conference, but last year’s team of young, relatively inexperienced players challenged the league’s best teams and entered the district championship in third place in the standings.

Although the team ultimately fell short of sending any players to the state tournament, the Bulldogs return every principal member of the team and poised to challenge for the team’s first trip to state in head coach Bill Mickle’s tenure with the team.

“I’m very excited for Woodburn golf,” Mickle said. “It’s the first time we’ve had four golfers that are competitive.”

The Bulldogs bring back juniors A.J. Martinez and Julian Kuznetsov and sophomores Gabe Hernandez and Dallin Stimpson, who combined to place third in the team’s opening match at Tukwila OGA.

Martinez shot a 79, while Kuznetsov was just behind with an 80, as the two placed fourth and fifth, respectively out of 35 golfers at the event.

Woodburn’s greatly improved play has other teams taking notice, said Mickle.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Martinez is the Bulldogs' No. 1 golfer, posting a team-best score of 79 to place fourth at Monday's season opener at the OGA Golf Course at Tukwila.“Today is the first time that West Albany came to me ever – and I’ve been coaching here for about 14 years – and they asked, ‘How’s Woodburn going to be?’” said Mickle.

With how well the team fared last year, the boys and girls got together to host the team’s first fundraiser last week at OGA Golf Course at Tukwila.

The team saw groups from Portland to Albany travel to Woodburn and play, with proceeds from fees and sponsors going to help pay for travel expenses and gear designed to get the team as much time on the fairways as possible this season.

“The reason why we had our fundraiser was because we needed to increase our revenue for our budget to go into extra play,” said Mickle.

The fundraiser was a huge success, said Mickle, not just because of the money raised, but also due to the increased awareness generated on the quality of the Woodburn golf program.

“During our fundraiser, all the participants came up and congratulated us coaches on how well mannered our players were,” Mickle said. “It was an outstanding event for the community, the high school and for people outside of the community to see what athletes our golfers are like.”

The members of the team assisted with a variety of hosting duties, said Mickle, and the four varsity boys spoke to a field of players after the event, thanking them for the support.

“It’s good to see how much people support us,” said Oscar Garcia, 15, a freshman member of the team.

Garcia is one of several new golfers on the team that is coming into the program with experience, thanks to OGA, said Mickle.

“You can give the credit to the OGA, who has really developed the youth program,” he said. “Their pros here have been swing experts for our kids.”

by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Dan Baggett of Tualatin takes a practice swing at  the Woodburn golf teams fundraiser tournament at OGA Course at Tukwila on Thursday. Proceeds from the event went to help the boys and girls golf teams pay for additional matches and gear.Mickle hopes to eventually build a junior golf club outside the school, allowing middle school athletes with an interest in golf to gain further experience before coming into the high school team.

A youth program, in conjuction with events like Thursday’s fundraiser, will help build a positive culture of golf that breeds success in the program.

“I started playing with my uncle for seven years, but stopped,” said Garcia. “I got into it again when I found out they had a golf team.”

That’s exactly what Mickle is hoping to see from the team’s increased level of play this season and beyond.

“I know after being in education for so long that success builds on success,” said Mickle. “When our young kids come up here and we can show them what our golf program is, they’ll automatically start to come in.”

For now, the team has its eyes focused on the present goal, which is to be one of the top two teams at the end of the season that advance to the state tournament.

“Our ambition is to get to the OSAA state championship as a team,” said Mickle. “We might have some individuals go, but we want to go as a team.”

After Monday’s positive start to the season, the next stop is at the Albany Golf Course next Monday, hosted by the 2013 state champion West Albany team.

“Everybody knows that Woodburn is soccer,” said Mickle. “Hopefully in the future, they’ll say, ‘Oh yes, Woodburn has a great golf team.’”

***

Results from Mid-Willamette Conference boys golf

March 31 at Tukwila OGA

Team

1st – C. Valley, 321

2nd – W. Albany, 323

3rd – Woodburn, 337

4th – Lebanon, 356

5th – Corvallis, 406

6th – Silverton, 414

7th – Dallas, 433

8th – S. Albany, no show

Individual

1. Kevin Geniza, C.V. – 72

2. Jaxson Daskalos, W.A. – 75

3. Chace Daskalos, W.A. – 76

4. A.J. Martinez, WB – 79

5. Julian Kuznetsov, WB – 80

6. Alec Berrey, C.V. – 80

7. James Santich, C.V. – 82

8. Josh Goins, LB – 82

*Additional Woodburn golfers: Gabe Hernandez, 89; Dallin Stimpson 89; Reggie Reyes 103




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