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Cavemen dominate Day 2

Rossknecht earns medalist, GP takes team championship

GRANTS PASS - All Joey Rossknecht needed Tuesday was a hole-in-one to make his day complete.

Rossknecht celebrated his 18th birthday by shooting a 2-under-par 70 that earned him medalist honors at the Southern Oregon Conference boys district golf tournament.

More importantly, he helped the Cavemen to the tournament championship and a berth in next week's Class 4A state tournament at Trysting Tree Golf Course in Corvallis.

And while Rossknecht didn't connect on a hole-in-one Tuesday at Grants Pass Golf Course, he did make an eagle on the first hole, springboarding himself and his team to victory.

Rossknecht finished with a two-day total of 1-over-par 145. Teammate Erik Hill fashioned a 3-under-par 69 Tuesday - his best tournament round ever - and registered a two-day total of 148.

With Geoff Davis adding a 77 Tuesday and a 153 total, Grants Pass finished the tourney with 615 strokes. Roseburg finished second with 623 but the Indians locked up the SOC's No. — state tournament berth by virtue of their regular-season championship.

Rounding out the field were North Medford (632), South Medford (635), Ashland (644), Klamath Union (648), Eagle Point (703) and Crater (incomplete).

South Medford senior Tony Guiliano and North Medford freshman Adam Browne nabbed individual state berths by finishing among the top five individuals. The pair tied for fifth with 154 totals.

"This was a storybook ending to our (regular) season," Rossknecht said. "This was perfect. I couldn't ask for a better birthday present."

Rossknecht said his swing felt flawless as he hit the practice range shortly before play began Tuesday.

Once on the first hole, the smooth-swinging junior crushed his drive 280 yards, then pounded a 3-iron 210 yards to the center of the green. Rossknecht still had some work to do - a 20-foot putt that went up and over a ridge - but he sank it for an eagle.

"When you can make eagle on the first hole, it does wonders for your confidence," Rossknecht said. "You've barely started your round and you're already 2-under-par."

Rossknecht missed an easy 4-foot birdie putt on the fifth hole but reached the turn at 2-under and improved to 3-under after a birdie on 15.

He then made a brilliant par on the tough 420-yard, par-4 16th hole. After hitting a poor drive that left him with tree trouble, he hammered a low, fading shot that got him close to the green. A nifty chip got him within a foot of the cup and he tapped in for his par.

"That's a tough hole and it started out shaky," Rossknecht said. "I was thrilled to get my par."

Rossknecht fell back to 2-under after bogeying the 17th and settled for a par on the par-5 18th.

Hill, meanwhile, sizzled to a 3-under 33 on the front nine and played even-par golf on the back to shoot 69 and post the best score of the day.

"The important thing for me was to stay loose and stay relaxed," said Hill, who won the district tournament last year at Eagle Point. "I haven't had to work on my swing much this year. My problems have been mental."

Hill was a bit tense early Tuesday as he struggled to par the first three holes. But then he made a routine par on four followed by a birdie on five when he stuffed a 4-iron within 5 feet of the cup.

He later sank a 10-foot downhill birdie putt on the seventh hole and a 15-footer for another birdie on eight.

"My putter heated up," Hill said. "I think I only needed 28 putts on the day."

The Cavemen were the SOC's biggest disappointment during the regular season. Expected to challenge Roseburg for the regular-season title, they finished not only behind the Indians but also behind North Medford and South Medford.

But all along the Cavemen knew the district tournament would be on their home course. All they had to do was win it for a trip to state.

"Our kids play best on this course - for obvious reasons," Grants Pass coach Steve York said. "This is the course they grew up on and where they play every day in the summer.

"They know the subtleties of it and they're comfortable with it.

"Still, until they go out and prove themselves at the district tournament, nothing is in the bag."

South Medford's Guiliano has had his own struggles this spring but came through in flying colors Tuesday to nab an individual trip to state.

"I've been in a slump most of the season," said Guiliano, who shot an even-par 36 on the front nine Tuesday and finished with a 74. "I just got my swing back to where it's supposed to be this week."

Browne, the North Medford freshman, missed a 2-foot putt on the final hole that he feared would knock him out of a state berth. But he still managed to punch his ticket to Trysting Tree.

"I'm really excited," Browne said. "It's what you're aiming for all season."

FINAL TEAM SCORES - Grants Pass 615, Roseburg 623, North Medford 632, South Medford 635, Ashland 644, Klamath Union 648, Eagle Point 703, Crater incomplete.

TOP FIVE INdivIDUALS - 1, Joey Rossknecht, Grants Pass, 145; 2, Erik Hill, Grants Pass, 148; 3, Asa Yraguen, Roseburg, 152; 4, Geoff Davis, Grants Pass, 153; 5, (tie) Adam Browne, North Medford, and Tony Guiliano, South Medford, 154.

GRANTS PASS (615) - Geoff Davis 76-77-153; Erik Hill 7-69-148; Joey Rossknecht 75-70-145; Travis Briseno 86-86-172; Brian Bigelow 83-88-171.

ROSEBURG (623) - Jeremy Thorburn 82-79-161; Asa Yraguen 79-73-152; Chris Shockey 82-76-158; Pat Jovin 78-76-154; Ryn Malone 80-80-160.

NORTH MEDFORD (632) - Adam Huycke 79-80-159; Chris Daggitt 81-83-164; Matt Dunbar 81-78-159; Adam Browne 79-75-154; Miller/Duncan 86-79-165.

SOUTH MEDFORD (635) - Noah Horstman 76-81-157; Tony Guiliano 80-74-154; Alan Johnson 81-79-160; Dan Potter 79-85-166; Casey/Ulbricht 90-87-177.

ASHLAND (644) - Pat Oropallo 77-80-157; Jesse Smith 80-78-158; Kevin Blum 83-75-158; Scott Bishop 83-89-172; Mike Plein 88-88-176.

KLAMATH UNION (648) - Craig Paulsen 76-82-158; Riley Eccles 85-85-170; Justin Leeper 79-83-162; Joe Putnam DQ-77-Inc.; Cory Luckrem 83-83-166.

EAGLE POINT (703) - Chris Lilya 87-85-172; John Worst 90-94-184; Andrew Tree 83-87-170; Bull/Hurley 94-86-180; Presley/Calhoun 99-91-190.

CRATER (Inc.) - Tristan Webb 86-83-169; Mike Slusher 93-94-187; Ryan Wood DG-83-Inc.; Levy Hummell DNF-89-Inc.; Brandon Wood 80-90-170.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469, or e-mail

Cavemen dominate Day 2