Back in the swing
There is definitely extra motivation this time around for Crater junior Kiana Oshiro as she preps for the Class 5A golf state championships set Monday and Tuesday at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
But it’s not for the reason most would expect.
Oshiro was in prime position to contend for last year’s individual crown before being disqualified for mistakenly signing an incorrect scorecard after her opening round.
As disappointing as that moment was, however, it’s not a focal point these days for the 17-year-old standout as she readies for her third trip to the state tournament.
In fact, when she looks back on last year, Oshiro merely offers up a smile and an easy-going laugh.
“That was my fault completely,” she says of signing a scorecard that had her finishing the first round at 5-under-par 67 instead of her actual 68. “That was just human error.”
It was Oshiro who reported the mistake amid some confusion on her final tally but since she had already exited the scoring area, she was disqualified from the tournament.
“I triple-check my scorecards now,” Oshiro said with a laugh during a break in her training at Eagle Point Golf Club. “I go by three holes then check if the scores look the same and if there’s a different number I’m like, wait … but I haven’t had that yet.”
With Oshiro unable to vie for the state title, Crater teammate Daniele Giles stepped up with two of her best rounds of the season (70-70—140) to tie four-time state champion Madison Odiorne of Summit for the 5A title.
It was the first-ever state title earned for the Crater program, and Oshiro says she was definitely excited to see Giles finish on top.
One year later, it’s players like Giles, an Oregon-bound senior, and fellow juniors McKenna Saunders, Falon Sonnen and Caitlyn O’Connor that have Oshiro truly motivated for a big showing beginning Monday.
“It’s my first time in high school that I actually am going up with a team so I actually am pretty happy about that,” says Oshiro, who placed second at the 6A state tournament as a freshman at North Medford High. “I think the Crater girls are doing a lot better, which I’m happy about. At districts last week they improved their scores by 10 strokes (to finish second to Summit) which was good. That actually has kind of boosted me forward this year, how hard all the other girls are working at it. That made me super-happy for this year.”
School commitments have kept Oshiro from competing much this spring with the Comets so she’s really looking forward to making one final push in Banks, especially since it’s the last run with Giles as a teammate.
“I’m going to miss her, man,” says Oshiro of her 18-year-old teammate. “She’s super-cool.”
Giles tied Pendleton’s Haley Greb for the district title last week with a two-day total of 150, while Oshiro was one stroke back in third place in a top-five that included Summit’s Olivia Loberg (152) and Rachel Drgastin (155).
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Crater coach Brent Bowker says of the individual race. “What I like about Kiana and Daniele is they’ve both been very steady and they’re both always out working on their game and don’t let things fluster them.”
“I think both girls have lower scores in themselves that they’re able to put up so it will be interesting to see where they end up,” adds the coach. “It’s a challenge in golf, you just never know. Each course presents a different challenge, but I expect them both to come through with flying colors and it wouldn’t surprise me if they finished 1-2 at state.”
For her part, Oshiro says: “All I can say is we’ll try. There are no guarantees, but we’ll try.”
“Of course I always want to go for first place,” adds Oshiro, “but for me it’s just about shooting the best score that I can possibly shoot within the time frame I have and how I’m doing currently. I just have to believe in myself and be confident in what I’m doing and who I am.”
Another thing that has Oshiro excited is making a return to Quail Valley, where she last played during her junior golf days.
“I’ve just had good memories from that place and I just really like that place,” she says.
Summit stands to be the team favorite after combining for a 645 total at the district tournament, 53 strokes better than the Comets. Should Crater earn a team trophy (top-four finish), it will be the first in program history.
6A GIRLS: South Medford sophomore Kirsten Reed competed as an individual at last year’s state tournament, finishing tied for 66th, and will look to improve on that while also boosting her team after the Panthers qualified for state by placing second to Roseburg at the regional tourney.
Reed shot an 87 and junior Emmie Starchvick carded an 88 to pace South Medford at the regional, with help from junior Morgan Couch (94) and sophomore Kierra Cano (102).
North Medford freshman Dana Jung also qualified for state after carding a 95 at the regional.
The 6A girls state tournament will be Monday and Tuesday at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
4A/3A/2A/1A GIRLS: St. Mary’s sophomore Kamryn Ford tied for fifth place in her first state tournament last year and is in line for even better this time around after winning the district title two weeks ago and also leading her team to the title.
St. Mary’s posted the top three showings at the district, with junior Staesha Flock and freshman Kaylee Wu tying for second place at 160, five strokes behind Ford.
The 4A/3A/2A/1A girls state tournament will be Monday and Tuesday at Eagle Crest Golf Club in Redmond on the Ridge Course.
6A BOYS: South Medford junior Reese Fisher has been on a tear this season, recently earning medalist honors with a 6-under-par 66 during the Southwest Conference tournament at Rogue Valley Country Club.
No stranger to the elite golfing scene, Fisher tied for eighth place at last year’s state tournament and will be aiming to take the next step Monday and Tuesday at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis.
3A/2A/1A BOYS: No state tournament stands to be as hotly contested in the individual and team race as the 3A/2A/1A boys state tournament at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell.
Defending state champion Cascade Christian boasts another loaded roster, led by senior Max Davis, and is coming off a district championship over St. Mary’s. The Crusaders had their string of four straight state titles halted last year by the Challengers, who ran away with the state crown with a two-day team score of 592.
Davis won the district title with a 142, shooting a 3-under-par 69 on the final day to move past St. Mary’s senior Josh Wu (145) for first place. Cascade Christian junior Ben Quast placed third (146).
St. Mary’s senior Jeremy Wu, who was seventh at the district, is the defending state champion. He won by eight strokes last year after a state-record opening round of 9-under 63. Davis placed third at state last year and Quast was fifth, while Josh Wu was 14th.
The Challengers were runner-up to St. Mary’s in 2014 before breaking through for their first team title in program history last season.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry