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LC girls in hunt for State 4A golf title

Golf ball. (Associated Press)
Golf ball. (Associated Press)

The Lewis and Clark Tigers put three players high on the leaderboard and pretty much matched scores with two-time defending champion Bellarmine Prep on a blustery Tuesday at the State 4A girls golf tournament.

The Lions, however, have a couple of more scoring options, with six qualifiers compared to the Tigers’ four. Still, it shapes up as an interesting chase for the championship entering today’s final round at MeadowWood.

The same goes for the individual title after LC senior Sydney Kersten, Bellarmine Prep’s Alivia Brown and Central Kitsap’s Katie Lee fired even-par 72s to share the lead. Six others, including LC freshman Sierra Kersten (74) and senior Megan Haase (76), are within four shots of the leaders.

“We’re always kind of at a disadvantage no matter what we do,” Tigers coach Michelle Grafos said, referring to six Greater Spokane League 4A teams battling for seven qualifying spots. “I have four and we’re playing four on six. Four is a great year out of Spokane. They have 37 (qualifying) spots (from three leagues) and when they take six they’re at an advantage.”

“I think we missed some putts, from what Sierra, Sydney and Megan were saying, but other than that I think we had a good day.”

Four Tigers and six Lions advanced to the second round (top 40 and ties). Mead’s Kristen Hansen shot 77 and Lydia Kim had 80 to advance. Bellarmine Prep had four of the 14 players who broke 80 – Brown (72), Jordan Ferreira (73), Olivia Benzin (77) and Gracie Dyer (79).

“Without question, Lewis and Clark is going to give us a run for the money,” said Lions coach Mark Bender, whose daughter Hailey was teammates with Grafos at the University of Washington. “Michelle is a great coach and she has those girls dialed in. It makes it fun when the competition is at this level.”

Sydney Kersten birdied both par 3s on the front side and turned in 1-under. She also birdied the par-3 17th before bogeying No. 18. The last three holes played into a stout breeze in the 20 mph range with gusts into the 30s.

“It was all around pretty solid and I was hitting the ball pretty good,” said the Princeton-bound Kersten, one of several LC valedictorians along with teammate Katie Larson, who shot 84. “You definitely had to factor the wind in and it knocked down a lot of shots.”

Sierra Kersten was even through 16 before finishing with bogeys on 17 and 18. She chipped in for birdie on No. 13. With the wind howling, Kersten faced the same dilemma as most of the players on the elevated 18th tee box.

“I hit a wood, which I probably shouldn’t have, and it got caught up in the jet stream. I was 175 yards out,” she said. “I had 7-wood in. My next club would have been a hybrid and that would have come up short.”

4A boys: Ferris’ Eric Ansett (78, tied for 12th), Mead’s Evan Dyar (79, tied for 20th) and Central Valley’s Dakota Pearce (80, tied for 25th) advanced to the second day at Hangman Valley. Jackson’s Kyle Cornett shot 74 and leads by one shot. over Curtis’ Aaron Clare and Eastlake’s Spencer Weiss.

Twenty-four players broke 80 in windy conditions and 42 made the cut by shooting 82 or better. LC’s John-Michael Larson (83), GSL player of the year Stephen Thoen of Mead (84), Ferris’ Tanner Comes (86) and Gonzaga Prep’s Tiago Correia (87) didn’t advance.

3A girls: Mt. Spokane senior Savana Bezdicek shot 74 and sophomore sister Sierra had 75 in the opening round at Esmeralda. Amanda Beyke of Decatur, Rachel Lewis of Peninsula and Sammie Pless of Holy Names Academy share the lead at 73.

“They had a plan and they stuck to it,” Mt. Spokane coach Eleen Northcutt said. “They’ve set themselves up in a very good position.”

Kelsey Aiello (74) is one of four Hanford players in the top 16. North Central’s Bridgid Rypien advanced with an 89.

3A boys: Five Mt. Spokane players advanced, led by Zack Spencer’s 75 and Marcus Bolam’s 76 at Indian Canyon. Shorewood’s Chris Babcock and O’Dea’s David Fonua shot 2-under 69s and Juanita’s Frank Garber was next at 70.

At least four teams – O’Dea, Southridge, Seattle Prep and Mt. Spokane – appear to be in the title chase. Mt. Spokane is the only team with five players left – Tye Morrison (77, tied for 18th), Tyler McQuilkin (79, t-27th) and Nick Thurston (79, t-27th) joined Spencer and Bolam. O’Dea, Southridge and Seattle Prep have players battling for the individual title and points are heavily weighted to the top placers.

“We’re chasing and we know that,” Wildcats coach Greg Schultz said, “but at least we have a shot.”

2B/1B girls: Two-time champion Kira Powell of Odessa-Harrington shot an 85 for a one-stroke lead at Oakbrook Golf and Country Club in Lakewood. Michal Schuster of St. John-Endicott (88) is in third place.

2A boys: Clarkston’s Tyler Carlson (76) is in second place and teammate Michael Baldec (78) is tied for fifth at the Classic Golf Club in Spanaway.