When Ben Quast was a sophomore competing for the Cascade Christian boys golf team, the sense around the squad was that they had more than enough talent to get the job done when it came to earning the school’s first state championship, they just had to play up to their potential.
A year later, the Challengers’ mindset involved proving to any doubters that they could do it again.
With Quast leading the charge this time around in an all-senior lineup, the thought process was simply to go out with a bang.
And that’s entirely what the Challengers were able to do Tuesday at Eagle Crest Ridge Course in Redmond.
Despite changing conditions that included hail and snow at one point, Quast was able to improve on his seventh-place finish in 2016 by placing second overall this time around, leading his team to a third straight Class 3A/2A/1A state championship in the process.
“It feels pretty good,” said Quast in summing up his two days of action. “Obviously I would’ve wanted the first spot but I felt like I played pretty well with what I was given weather-wise, so I’m not mad about anything.”
“For our team,” he added, “it’s pretty exciting being our third (championship) in a row. Since we’re all seniors, it’s a pretty awesome way to go out.”
Making it that much more gratifying is the fact that the Challengers definitely had to grind it out in order to come out on top again.
Cascade Christian opened a five-stroke advantage over Oregon Episcopal through first-round play, then saw that edge dip to four strokes midway through Tuesday’s blustery second round. Undaunted, the Challengers were able to finish strong behind the play of Quast, Max Valle, Ryan Collom and Nash O’Hara to ultimately pull away for a 12-stroke victory.
Cascade Christian scored a 333 on Day 2 that combined with Monday’s 325 for a 658 total to deny the Aardvarks (670). Valle finished 12th overall after his second-round 83 gave him a 163 total, while Collom tied for 18th (84-83—167) and O’Hara finished 26th overall (91-87—178).
“They just fought right through it and just were determined to do the best they could,” said Challengers head coach Jerry Johnson, “and they just did a great job today.”
Oakridge senior Joel Snyder backed up his opening-round 69 with a 75 to edge Quast by six strokes with a 144 total to claim the 3A/2A/1A individual title. The second round, overall, was a completely different challenge from the day before thanks to trying conditions that especially took hold over the final nine holes.
“It was pretty brutal,” said Quast. “The front nine was fine, it was just a little windy, but for the back nine the wind really started to pick up and it started raining and then started hailing and then actually started snowing at one point. We kind of got all of it: sun, rain, all the way to snow.”
Those conditions not only challenged the physical part of the game, it also challenged the mental aspect as even bogey began to look like an acceptable score coming home. Quast had four birdies and two bogeys in the first round but had to temper himself as he wound up posting six bogeys and one double bogey over his final 11 holes.
“I just had to put everything into perspective,” said Quast, who will be attending Chico State in the fall. “I know I don’t ever want to bogey but I told myself with the weather being as it is, I’m not happy with it but I’ll accept it since it’s pretty nasty. And the other thing is you’re not the only one out there battling this weather, everyone else is got the same circumstances and scoring the same way.”
In truth, Quast said he felt good about how he was playing on both days, even if the scores were in such contrast.
“I felt like I was hitting the ball pretty well,” he said, “mainly just around the green was kind of a struggle. Yesterday felt a lot better but we also had great weather so you can’t really compare the two, but as far as ball-striking I thought I did OK.”
Johnson certainly agreed.
“Ben was just steady all the time,” said the coach. “He was just very determined.”
As was the case throughout the Challenger lineup, who took their five-stroke lead going into Day 2 as a point of emphasis to remain focused on the task at hand.
“Yesterday we saw we were only up by five strokes but I think that helped us out a lot because we couldn’t slack off and ease into it,” said Quast. “We came in knowing today that we have to play pretty well if we’re going to win it again because it was going to be close.”
It was that kind of determined mindset that Johnson said his team has carried with it since the end to last season. The Challengers made it a point of emphasis to go all out for 2017 in order to claim another crown, which also resulted in a seventh straight small-school title by a Medford team after St. Mary’s won from 2011-14.
“The boys, they really work hard at it,” said Johnson. “After last year they just started thinking we ought to go for a three-peat, but it was their work ethic that got us here. They worked hard for it, it wasn’t just a talk to three-peat, it was let’s go get it. And that’s what they did.”
TEAM SCORES: Cascade Christian 325-333—658, Oregon Episcopal 330-340—670, Blanchet Catholic 346-353—699, Portland Adventist 351-349—700, Heppner/Ione 358-350—708, Oakridge 360-374—734, La Pine 373-363—736, Regis 367-372—739, Columbia Christian 362-385—747, Enterprise 371-381—752, Burns 405-384—789, Bandon 398-408—806, Taft 419-423—842.
INDIVIDUAL SCORES (Top 5): 1, Joel Snyder, Oakridge, 69-75—144; 2, Ben Quast, Cascade Christian, 70-80—150; 3, Jackson Kennon, Bandon, 72-82—154; T4, Alden Felstiner, Oregon Episcopal, 75-82—157, and Kyle Humphries, Regis, 79-78—157, and Riley Lankford, Nixyaawii, 80-77—157.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN (658): 2, Ben Quast, 70-80—150; 12, Max Valle, 80-83—163; T18, Ryan Collom, 84-83—167; 26, Nash O’Hara, 91-87—178.
6A TOURNAMENT: At Banks, South Medford senior Reese Fisher missed out in his bid to become only the second player in 48 years to win consecutive big-school boys championships when he shot 77 on Day 2 and finished tied for ninth overall with a 152 total at Quail Valley Golf Course.
Fisher was 3-over-par on the front nine with a round-opening bogey and a double bogey on No. 6 but battled back with birdies on the 11th and 15th holes to give rise to a potential hot finish that unfortunately didn’t materialize. Fisher bogeyed the 16th and 17th and had a double bogey on No. 18 to wrap up his round.
Sam Pyon of Clackamas rallied with a 2-under-par 70 on Day 2 to to secure the individual title with a combined score of 144, which was three shots better than Jesuit’s Danny Terrell. The Crusaders, however, edged Clackamas for the 6A team title.
Panthers freshman Riggs Loftin carded an 85 on Day 2 to finish tied for 36th at 165, with sophomore Gabe Provencio only two shots back with a two-day total of 167. As a team, South Medford placed fifth overall with a combined score of 656.
North Medford senior Jordan Davis, who qualified as an individual, tied for 66th after finishing with a 91 on Tuesday.
TEAM SCORES: Jesuit 293-309—602, Clackamas 314-311—625, Sunset 311-316—627, Lake Oswego 310-325—635, South Medford 318-338—656, West Salem 326-332—658, West Linn 317-346—663, Tualatin 328-340—668, Beaverton 326-355—681, Willamette 343-341—684, Lincoln 332-355—687, South Eugene 348-347—695.
INDIVIDUAL SCORES (Top 5): 1, Sam Pyon, Clackamas, 74-70—144; 2, Danny Terrell, Jesuit, 73-74—147; 3, Kevin Orr, Sunset, 74-74—148; 4, Andrew Eyre, West Salem, 74-75—149; 5, Nick Timm, Jesuit, 70-80—150.
OTHER LOCAL SCORES: 17, Jackson Bartow, Grants Pass, 75-82—157; T66, Jordan Davis, North Medford, 87-91—178.
SOUTH MEDFORD (656): T9, Reese Fisher, 75-77—152; T36, Riggs Loftin, 80-85—165; T41, Gabe Provencio, 78-89—167; NA, Zach Stranahan/Trae Carpenter, 85-87—172.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry