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Tornado's Schuler earns trip to 6A state tournament

EAGLE POINT — The Southwest Conference boys golf tournament largely belonged to players and teams from north of the Rogue Valley.

But North Medford's Daniel Schuler didn't let the outsiders get away with all the glory Friday at Eagle Point Golf Club.

The sophomore became the first Black Tornado to qualify for the state tournament since Hamilton Baehr in 2009 by finishing in the top three among individuals not on one of the qualifying teams.

In schizophrenic weather conditions — sun, rain, wind, then more of each — he followed up a 73 on Thursday with an 80 for a two-day total of 153, tying him for fourth place.

Two teams advanced to state May 14-15 at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell. South Eugene won the regular-season title to secure one spot. When it also claimed the district crown, district runner-up Sheldon of Eugene earned the second berth.

South Eugene, paced by medalist Sulman Raza, won the overall title with a five-match score of 1,547 — 47 strokes ahead of Sheldon.

The Axemen shot 302 Friday, giving them the district victory with a 606 for two days. Sheldon shot 322 Friday and 635 for the district, while North Medford was fourth at 322-646, one shot behind Roseburg.

Raza finished with a 2-under-par 70 for a 141 total. Teammate Jacob Henderson was second with a 147.

The other two state qualifiers were Thurston's Mitchell Stewart (151) and Roseburg's Drew Groshong (153).

South Medford junior Noah Brooks nearly crashed the party, shooting a 154 to miss out on a chance at state by one stroke. He finished strong with a 38 on the back for a round of 79.

North Medford had hopes of sending its first team to state since 2004, but it was unable to overcome a poor showing in Thursday's first round.

"That was our goal going in," said Black Tornado coach Kevin Klabunde, "and it just didn't happen. We shot ourselves in the foot yesterday and didn't really make the move that we needed to make today. So that's really disappointing, and I know the kids are really disappointed, too."

North Medford has three juniors and two sophomores, leaving Klabunde optimistic about next season.

One of those back will be Schuler, who was brimming with confidence after Thursday's 1-over round, followed by a solid practice session and 45 minutes of work on the putting green.

"I wasn't so nervous about what I'd shoot," he said, "I just really wanted to shoot to my potential."

He's rarely put together a series of good rounds, he said, and is eager for that to start happening.

"Once I start shooting in the low 70s on average ... I set some pretty high standards," he said. "I could have shot in the 60s yesterday, and I felt like I could have shot in the 60s today. Obviously, it didn't happen."

Schuler was pleased with his ball striking but was plagued by a number of putts that lipped out, including Nos. 16 and 18. He had 29 putts for the round.

Schuler made a double-bogey 7 on the fourth hole and shot 40 on the front. He was even through five holes on the back, but was derailed by a double bogey on the shortest hole on the course, the 15th, when he toed his tee shot into a hazard. It played about 140 yards.

He then finished par, bogey, bogey.

It wasn't long after the round, however, that Schuler looked toward state.

"It just motivates me because I know I can play way better than I did today," he said. "I'll have a whole week to practice and work on my game and try to get it where it needs to be to try and get a top spot up there."

TEAM SCORES — *South Eugene 304-302—606, *Sheldon 313-322—635, Roseburg 321-324—645, North Medford 324-322—646, South Medford 346-339—685, Thurston 353-340—693, Grants Pass 369-340—709, Crater 371-354-725.

* — qualifying teams for state tournament

INDIVIDUAL SCORES (Top 5) — 1, Sulman Raza, SE, 71-70—141; 2, Jacob Henderson, SE, 71-76—147; 3, Mitchell Stewart, Thu, 77-74—151; 4, (tie) Daniel Schuler, NM, 73-80—153, and Drew Groshong, Ros, 75-78—153.

Day 2 Scores

SOUTH EUGENE (302) — Sulman Raza 35-35—70, Jacob Henderson 37-39—76, Tommy Fruin, 36-41—77, Paul Picado-Curtis 39-40—79.

SHELDON (322) — Ben Wanichek 39-40—79, TJ Nees 40-42—82, Joseph Kuehn 42-38—80, Jordan Daline 40-41—81.

NORTH MEDFORD (322) — Daniel Schuler 40-40—80, Taylor Klemp 43-35—78, Joey Walker 39-40—79, Brandon Galante 44-41—85, David Parson 43-42—85.

ROSEBURG (324) — Arie Yraguen 39-36—75, Drew Groshong 40-38—78, Devin Caylor 41-47—88, Kai Seely 41-42—83.

SOUTH MEDFORD (339) — Noah Brooks 41-38—79, Alex Brown 42-44—86, David DeCoste 40-43—83, Blake Bartlett 44-47—91.

THURSTON (340) — Mitchell Stewart 36-38—74, Ryan Adair 49-46—95, Beau Mende 42-43—85, Jamesen Watts 42-44—86.

GRANTS PASS (340) — Russell Laubscher 40-44—84, Bryan Luther 46-43—89, Cody Stoffel 42-42—84, Robert Galli 42-41—83.

CRATER (354) — Jake Grondin 36-42—78, Cory Marinuea 45-44—89, Race Reiter 44-47—91, Jake Gustafson 45-51—96.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email ttrower@mailtribune.com

North Medford sophomore Daniel Schuler watches his shot during Friday's round at Eagle Point Golf Club. - Julia Moore