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State golf: Mead’s Taylor Mularski holds one-shot lead after firing 4-under 68

UPDATED: Tue., May 24, 2022

Taylor Mularski called it a “pretty boring round of golf, which I like.”

It wasn’t boring to watch.

The Mead High School senior’s precision off the tee, solid iron play and steady putting kept her out of trouble throughout a tidy 4-under-par 68 Tuesday at MeadowWood in the girls State 3A tournament. Mularski is one shot in front of Southridge’s Angela Park, who has committed to Washington, and Jillian Hui.

Southridge (302) has a five-stroke lead over Interlake entering Wednesday’s final round. Mead is eighth at 339.

Mularski demonstrated her ball-striking ability with a 3-under front nine without making a putt over 5 feet. She made just one putt longer than 7 feet – a 13-footer for birdie on No. 17 – on the back side.

“I was really happy with how I was hitting driver, because driver can be unpredictable sometimes,” she said. “For the most part, I chose a target and got fairly close to it. Overall, it was a good round.”

Meanwhile, Mead’s boys opened with a solid 290 at nearby Liberty Lake, but the Panthers trail Mercer Island, sparked by first-round leader Spencer Smith’s 6-under 66 and Duke-bound Ethan Evans’ 68, by nine. Bellevue is third at 294.

Mead’s Bradley Mulder (70) shares fifth and Ty Anderson (71) is tied for seventh.

“When I said I would take a 291 last week (en route to winning the District 8 tournament at Liberty Lake) at state, I should have said, ‘We’re going to have to do better,’ ” Mead coach Paul Peters said .

Mularski knocked it close for birdies on Nos. 1 and 6. Her drive hugged the left side of the fairway, shortening the 460-yard par-5 seventh. After her approach from 164 yards, she two-putted from 20 feet for birdie.

Mularski opted to hit driver on No. 10, which requires 225 yards to carry the driving-range pond and 260 to the green. Her decision led to a short chip shot and she drained a 7-footer for birdie.

“I’d been hitting my driver well,” said Mularski, who launched two drives, one that reached the green and another just off the putting surface, during a practice round Monday with a more favorable wind. “When I hit it, I was, ‘Wow, that’s aggressive.’ I wasn’t necessarily intending to go over the longest part of the water.”

Mularski’s only hiccup was at the par-5 16th. She misread her first putt from the back fringe and missed a 6-footer for par. She followed her only bogey with a birdie on No. 17.

“After a bogey, coming back with even a par is so important so you don’t get your mindset thinking, ‘Bogey, bogey, bogey,’ ” the Gonzaga-bound Mularski said. “That (birdie putt) was a huge momentum builder.”

So was the 6-footer to save par on the closing hole.

“I knew if I made bogey my final score would have been fine, but I only had 118 yards coming in and I didn’t want to make bogey from there,” Mularski said. “The putt was pretty straightforward and the stroke was good.”

Mt. Spokane’s girls shot 374 and didn’t make the cut (top eight teams).

The Mead boys’ 290 was in the vicinity of its 291 and 293 district scores last week at Liberty Lake, but Mercer Island posted its lowest score of the season. Head coach Tyson Peters noted Smith’s 66 was the “best round he’s ever played.”

Mead got a nice boost from No. 5 Jaxon Chimienti’s 74.

“He really came through,” Paul Peters said.

Mercer Island arrived a few days early to play a couple of practice rounds. Evans won state as a freshman, but he hasn’t had a chance to defend with the past two state tournaments called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A 281 is a really good score,” Tyson Peters said. “The front nine has been playing long. Our guys are all solid with their drivers. This course is very much a drivers’ course, so it sets up well for us.”

Mead will have to come from behind if it wants to catch Mercer Island. That scenario played out earlier this month when the Panthers trailed Mercer Island by two shots after the first round of the Bill Egbers Memorial Tournament before winning by one over 4A Kamiak and by six over the Islanders at Skagit Valley Golf and Country Club.

“You just have to hit on all cylinders and play some of our best golf and see what happens,” Paul Peters said.

Mt. Spokane (324) and Ridgeline (328) didn’t make the cut.

Gonzaga Prep’s Cooke leads 4A boys

Alex Cooke carded a 68 and teammate Dillon Schrock added a 72 for Gonzaga Prep, which is third after shooting 305 at Indian Summer Country Club in Olympia.

Cooke, the Greater Spokane League Player of the Year, is two strokes in front of Bellarmine Prep’s Max Burns and Kamiak’s Daniel Kim. Bellarmine Prep (291) has a 10-stroke lead over Kamiak.

Lewis and Clark’s girls, led by Amanda Nguyen’s 73, is seventh after the opening round at Hawks Prairie in Lacey. Nguyen is tied for fourth, three shots behind Union’s Jade Gruhen.

Issaquah (311) has a four-stroke edge over Newport in the team standings.

2A: Pullman’s Lauren Greeny fired a 70 at Tumwater Valley and shares second with Tumwater’s Lily McCauley, one behind White River’s Brooke Gelinas. West Valley’s Spencer Cerenzia (79) is tied for eighth.

Parker Legreid’s 77 and Trae Frederickson’s 79 paced the Pullman boys at Capital City in Olympia. Centralia’s Von Wasson (69) leads by two.

Team scores weren’t posted on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) website.

1A: Newport’s Tanner Mackey, Riverside’s Silas Ng and Freeman’s Ryan Russell shot 84s to lead area boys at Indian Canyon. Bear Creek’s Ryder Odem (65) holds a five-stroke lead.

Newport’s Annie Huang (97) is tied for 13th. Charles Wright Academy’s Emersyn Walker (75) has a nine-shot lead.

Team scores weren’t posted.

2B/1B: Northwest Christian’s Abby Veenstra (92) is sixth and Liberty’s Maddie Haas (96) is seventh. La Conner’s Emma Worgum took the first-round lead with a 75 at Deer Park.

Matthew Longstreth of St. George’s (79) sits in sixth place, seven strokes behind Orcas Island’s Burley Hildreth. Davenport’s Maddox Schumacher (83) is tied for 10th.

Team scores weren’t posted.

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