It's easy to get overlooked when you're in a high school golf conference that includes the two best players in the state and the most dominant team in Oregon prep boys history.
District 6 had that with individual players Dylan Wu of St. Mary's and Kevin Murphy of Rogue River and the Crusaders team, which captured the Class 3A/2A/1A boys tournament this week by 77 shots — breaking by six strokes the record for margin of victory set by Corvallis 69 years earlier.
Other players in the district weren't as prominent on the radar but deserve recognition.
St. Mary's senior Will Street was a bright blip on the screen, serving as the No. 2 player much of the season for the juggernaut that is St. Mary's. But when he placed fourth at state and shot a 1-over-par round of 73 — one off the best score on the final day — it was barely noticed as eventual winner Wu and defending champion Murphy battled for supremacy.
The blip for Max Davis, a Cascade Christian freshman who also shot a second-round 73 and was the low ninth-grader in the field, was faint.
Then there was Jake Quast, a sophomore teammate of Davis' who didn't have a blip at all. He didn't qualify for the tournament even though his district performance was among the best in the state. That was his lot for being in the same league as St. Mary's and Rogue River. They call it the rub of the green.
So, let's take a look at them now.
STREET POSSESSES A silky smooth swing — it has been compared to Fred Couples' — and it's one of the reasons he'll get the chance to keep playing in college.
He'll attend Trinity University, an NCAA Division III school in San Antonio, Texas.
Street had a scoring average of about 75, exceeding that number only twice in tournaments.
He wasn't bothered that attention went elsewhere."They're two really good players who are going to Division I schools," he said of Northwestern-bound Wu and Murphy, who has signed to play for Oregon State. "I've just done what I could and tried to play well. What happens, happens."
He played well, with the exception of a tournament at Tetherow in Bend and a pre-state event at Emerald Valley in Creswell, site of the state tournament.
"Other than that, I felt like I had a really good season," said Street. "I was a lot more consistent than in the past."
At state, his plan was simple: hit fairways and greens. It worked for the most part. He was 1 under through 14 holes, but bogeys at 15 and 18 knocked him back. On the last hole, a par 4, he had to punch out from trees but still had an 8-footer for par that didn't go.
St. Mary's dominance made it a bit easier on its players.
"Knowing we have a very good team, it was easy to be more comfortable while you're playing," said Street. "You know you don't have to put up a perfect score to have a chance at winning. You can play more relaxed and play a lot better as a team."
Street looked at a few colleges. He visited Trinity during spring break and enjoyed the campus, the golf coach and the team. It's important for him to continue with competitive golf, he said, but academics were his first priority. He expects to study business.
On the golf team, his goal is to lower his scoring average to even par.
"I'll try to get better over the summer, and I think I can do it," he said.
THAT'S SOMETHING Davis did in his inaugural high school season.
"Max just got better and better all year long," said Challengers coach Jerry Johnson.
Davis served notice early that he was ready. In the Cascade Christian Invitational, he shot 1-under 71 at Centennial, finishing one shot behind medalist Wu. The rookie was 4 under on the back nine with a 32.
He was the lone District 6 player not on the St. Mary's or Rogue River teams to make state, shooting a pair of 73s to place third in the league tournament at Shield Crest in Klamath Falls.
Davis' second day at state was impressive. He hit 17 greens in regulation on a long course with lots of trees and tough greens.
"Everything is set up by the drive, and it's so narrow, it's like playing the inside nine at the (Rogue Valley) country club all day long. It's really tight and you have to place your drives so accurately."
Davis was even through 15 holes — after two birdies and two bogeys — before dropping a shot.
"If he could have had some putts drop ..." said Johnson. "He had a dozen from 6 to 12 feet and only made two of them. He lipped a few of them out. He could have very well been under par. He was putting well, they were just on the edge all the time. He played very solid."
QUAST NO DOUBT wishes he would have gotten that opportunity.
He recorded rounds of 75 and 74 at district at Shield Crest. The top two teams and top five individuals — regardless of whether they were on a qualifying team — made state.
His 149 was two shots shy of fifth place.
Quast would have been the star most anywhere else. There are six other districts, and his score was good enough to win five of them. Only two players outside District 6 posted better scores.
Of the individuals who qualified, the two closest to Quast were nine shots back. One state qualifier was 31 shots behind, another 26.
Johnson called the Oregon School Activities Association to see if there was a way to get Quast to state. There wasn't.
"At this level, you've got to give the kids who deserve it the opportunity," said Johnson. "Jake definitely needed that opportunity."
In Class 6A, the two best teams and the three top individuals not on those teams qualify. If that standard applied to the other classifications, Quast would have been in.
The OSAA elected three years ago to provide more opportunity for large schools because there are more players on those teams, said Kyle Stanfield, who oversees golf for the governing body.
State qualification guidelines are reviewed every four years, and the OSAA is in that period. If any changes are to come about, they would go into effect during the 2014-15 school year.
The issue is not unique to golf. There will be track competitors at district meets this weekend who won't advance to state even though their marks or times will be better than some who do get in.
"It's relative," said Stanfield. "It's one of those things that goes back and forth depending on what activity and what league you're in."
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