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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sierra Kersten, Tanner Comes open 4A golf with sub-par rounds

Sierra Kersten feels like her game is trending in the right direction.

That was certainly the case Monday when the Lewis and Clark senior fired a 3-under 70 on the first day of District 8 4A golf tournament at Downriver.

Mead’s Lydia Kim is five strokes back after a 75. Gonzaga Prep’s Kelly Hooper and LC freshman Skylar Kersten, Sierra’s sister, are tied for third at 82.

In the boys’ tournament, Tanner Comes of Ferris shot a 2-under 69 to open a four-stroke lead over Mead’s Blake Ellingsen. Central Valley’s Jake Dringle (74) is third.

The top 18 and ties advanced to Thursday’s final round. The top seven girls and top seven boys qualify for state.

This is familiar territory for Sierra Kersten, a two-time district champion and the 2013 state champion. She encountered a few bumps during the regular season but she’s been under par in two of her last three rounds.

“I’m pleased with it,” the Stanford-bound Kersten said. “I was striking the ball better than I was last week. I had a few errant shots but I recovered well. On the front nine, I missed a couple of short putts but I kind of straightened that up for the rest of the round.”

Kersten got up-and-down for birdie on No. 1 and hit a nice 4-wood within 12 feet for a two-putt birdie on No. 7. She was 2-under at the turn despite missing three putts of less than 4 feet.

Kersten was on the fringe in two on both back-nine par 5s and two-putted for birdies. She made a 5-footer to save par on 16, but missed a birdie putt from the same distance on 17. She had 12 feet for birdie on 18 but was above the hole on a speedy green. Her putt slipped 6 feet past the cup and she missed the return putt.

Kim, who has signed with St. John’s, would have been closer to Kersten if not for a tough stretch midway through the back nine. She bogeyed the par-5 13th and wasn’t able to take advantage of the 448-yard par-5 14th.

She made double bogey on the par-4 15th, where the pin was located on a small shelf in the middle of the green. Four of her six strokes came on the putting surface. She shook it off quickly, draining a 15-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th, narrowly missing a short birdie putt on 17 and burying a 6-footer for par on 18.

“I’ve had huge problems lately with my driver, but I managed to keep it pretty consistent,” Kim said. “I messed up with the 4-putt and I probably should have birdied or made par on those par 5s but other than that I was pretty happy.”

Comes, who has committed to Division II University of Colorado Colorado Springs, wasn’t at his best off the tee but more than made up for it with his approach shots, chipping and putting.

“I scrambled well,” Comes said. “The (8-foot par) putt on 18 was the only putt I missed inside 10 feet. I made a lot of 8-9 footers for birdie.”

Comes snap-hooked two tee shots, but on one he rallied for a birdie. He birdied all four par 5s.

Ellingsen, who edged Comes for Greater Spokane League Player of the Year honors last week by holing out from 50 yards for eagle on the 18th hole at the Fairways, had five birdies and three bogeys.

“I hit the driver fairly well, hit my irons well, chipped well,” Ellingsen said. “I just didn’t knock in the putts I wanted to knock in.”

District 8 3A

Mt. Spokane, led by Megan Billeter’s 8-over 80 at Esmeralda, holds down the top four spots in the 3A girls tournament. Teammates Cailin Spencer (84), Kailyn Jones (92) and Brooke Fraser (96) round out the top four.

Mt. Spokane’s Sam Stiles shot a 3-over 73 to take the first-round boys’ lead. Shadle Park’s Phillip Flexer shot a 75 and Mt. Spokane’s Ross Morrison had a 76. Mt. Spokane’s Chase Jensen and North Central’s Izach Tabish are tied for fourth at 80.

The top five girls and top five boys qualify for state. The 4A and 3A girls will play their final round Thursday at MeadowWood while the 4A and 3A boys are at Liberty Lake.

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