It’s been a memorable season already for the Community Colleges of Spokane men’s and women’s golf teams.
Both have one piece of unfinished business left to make a lasting mark in school history.
The men, winners of seven tournaments and the NWAACC regular-season title, are trying to punctuate their season in the winners’ circle at the NWAACC Championships, which begin a two-day run Sunday at Veterans Memorial Golf Course in Walla Walla.
“Personally, it’s more of an accomplish- ment to win the regular- season champion- ship,” coach Scott Kramer said. “It’s four tournaments (one in the fall, three this spring), eight rounds of golf. To win that, it says a lot about our team. But when they list it in the books and hang up banners in the gym, they only talk about the NWAACC Championships.”
The women have won five titles in seventh-year coach Christie Dalsanders’ tenure. They finished second a year ago.
“I think we’re favored,” she said, “but we have some work to do the next couple of days.”
Kramer, who is in his second season as head coach, played two years for CCS and was a member of the last championship squad in 2002. The Sasquatch also won the title in 1999.
“The team I played on was a little more consistent, but we didn’t go as low as these guys very often,” he said. “We had four guys that could consistently shoot 72-74. This group, and in the league itself, there a lot of lower scores – mid- to high-60s. The NWAACC is stronger, at least at the top end.”
Kramer got a late start on recruiting his first year, but he put together a squad that stayed within six shots of perennial power Walla Walla at last year’s NWAACC Championships.
With ample time to recruit for his second season, Kramer delivered an impressive freshmen class. He brought in three players from Coeur d’Alene High, a standout from Deer Park, a Montana state champion and a hidden gem from Western Washington.
CdA’s Kyler Gable, who led the team with a scoring average of 71.5, made first-team All-NWAACC. Ex-Viking Taylor Porter, son of Avondale pro Dan Porter, and Jason Molner, from Mark Morris High in Longview, Wash., were second-team selections. Molner “just flew under the (recruiting) radar, but he’s been a stud for us,” Kramer said.
Add in Deer Park’s Corey Meyers, CdA’s Tyler Johnson and Whitefish, Mont., product Sam Krause, and Kramer often took six freshmen to events.
On the men’s side, six play and four scores count. For the women, six play and three count.
“They’re just golf junkies,” Kramer said. “We usually travel on Saturday and we grab a bite to eat, but instead of going out to a movie they want to go find the nearest green to have putting and chipping contests. They’re a great group to be around.”
Walla Walla is CCS’s primary competition, but Southwestern Oregon and Bellevue are capable of walking off with the title.
“Four teams have been consistently shooting around par,” he said. “In years’ past, you’d shoot 300 and be in pretty good shape. This year it’s 285-290 to be in the running.”
Kramer hopes this trip goes a little smoother than a previous venture to Walla Walla for a practice round. The players were greeted by 60 mph winds. One player was warming up on the putting green when a sizable branch came crashing to the ground. CCS sneaked in nine holes before calling it a day.
“We had a great fall season, then the long winter and we got off to a rough start in the spring because we couldn’t practice,” Kramer said. “Then we came on strong and to cap things off at the conference tournament would really validate the year we’ve had.”
The CCS women have dominated the conference. Spokane had four of the six first-team selections, including sophomores Kelsey Harting (Chewelah), Chelsea Kenner (Post Falls) and Katie Sorenson (Central Valley). Those three have been the team’s top scorers. They were joined on the first team by freshman Darby Moberg (Freeman).
Katie Nelson (Battle Ground, Wash.) and Alyssa Osterback (Mt. Spokane) made second team.
“We’re at a slight disadvantage when it comes to the weather,” Dalsanders said. “We couldn’t play for weeks when the others were playing, but we’re prepared physically.”
The team makes the most of its down time in the winter.
“One of the advantages we have is physically we’re in great shape. We work out in the weight room with our strength coach,” Dalsanders said. “We’ve been getting beat on the first day of tournaments but the second day we come out and compete and win.
“A great example was Southwestern Oregon last week. We were down four strokes (to Green River) after the first day and we came back and won the tournament by 18 strokes.”
Spokane and Green River figure to battle again for the title at the NWAACC Championships.
“Skagit Valley, Bellevue and Southwestern Oregon have been solid, but there’s just a big separation between them and the first two teams,” she said. “This has been a wonderful group to work with. When it’s all said and done, it’s going to be hard to turn them loose.”