Locals look to defend state championships
The Cascade Christian boys golf team is looking to extend its streak of state championships.
Other players in the Rogue Valley will try to defend their titles, thereby making their own streaks.
The boys and girls state tournaments are Monday and Tuesday, and local golfers figure to make a big splash again.
Cascade Christian is going for its third straight 3A/2A/1A boys crown at the Ridge Course at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond.
St. Mary’s girls, led by defending champion Kamryn Ford, won its first team title since 2009 and looks to make it two in a row at Trysting Tree in Corvallis.
South Medford’s Reese Fisher, a senior, will try to become only the second player in 48 years to win consecutive big-school boys championships at Quail Valley in Banks.
Another player, Kiana Oshiro, would be in line to claim a second straight crown, but she was a casualty as school systems wrestled with allowing charter school students to participate in district extracurricular activities.
Oshiro, a senior who attends Logos Public Charter School in Medford, won the 5A girls crown last season while playing for Crater. But new requirements this year dictated she take two classes at Crater to be eligible to play golf for the Comets.
Her schedule didn’t mesh with Crater’s. One solution, she said, was to drop an English course at Logos and start it again at Crater.
“I was halfway through the quarter,” said Oshiro. “I would have had to restart the quarter and play catch-up. That would have put me behind in my education.”
Oshiro, who will attend Western Texas College in Snyder, Texas, next year, wanted desperately for the scheduling to work so she could rejoin the Comets.
Barring the unforeseen, they would have advanced again as a team. Last year, behind Oshiro and 2015 state champion Daniele Giles, Crater placed third, earning its first state trophy.
Oshiro’s state tourney experience has had peaks and valleys. She placed second in the 6A tourney as a freshman for North Medford. As a Crater sophomore, she shot a 4-under 68 in the opening round but was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. Redemption was hers last year, but she won’t be back to attempt a repeat.
“I really wanted to,” said Oshiro.
Cascade Christian, with a lineup of five seniors led by Ben Quast, who tied for seventh last year, will get their chance.
A victory by the Challengers would be the seventh straight small-school title by a Medford team. St. Mary’s won from 2011-14.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” said coach Jerry Johnson. “The last several years, my boys, they have kind of risen to the occasion. We haven’t put our five best scores up at the same time, so far, but the last three years we ended up doing that. Hopefully, we’ll do it again.”
His players are motivated and businesslike, said Johnson.
“They seem to really want to go after it,” he said. “We’ll see what happens when we get to state.”
The primary challengers for them appear to be Oregon Episcopal and Heppner/Ione.
The St. Mary’s girls won the crown by a whopping 73 strokes in 2016. This time, the Crusaders figure to be tested by Heppner/Ione.
Although they played different courses in different conditions, the district scores for St. Mary’s and Heppner/Ione were within a few strokes.
“It’s not going to be a walk in the park,” said Crusaders coach Kevin Dixon. “We’re going to have to play our best golf of the year to defend. We didn’t have that (challenge) last year, but they’re a good team.”
Ford, a junior, won St. Mary’s first individual title last year by four shots over teammate Staesha Flock, now a senior. Sophomore Kaylee Wu tied for fourth a year ago.
Flock won the district tournament Monday and Tuesday at Bandon Crossings with rounds of 74 and 75.
“Right now, Staesha is our most consistent golfer,” said Dixon. “She’s really locked in.”
A half-dozen players, he added, could vie for the individual title.
Fisher, too, is honed in. His last two high school rounds were 65 at Rogue Valley and 68 at Grants Pass.
On Monday, he tied for 15th out of 94 players at a U.S. Open local qualifier at Pronghorn in Bend, shooting a 74.
“I’m really prepared,” said Fisher, who won state by one stroke with a two-day 142 a year ago at Trysting Tree. “That 65 really helped me. It proved to me that I’m ready.”
Fisher, a longer hitter, credits improved accuracy with his driver for his late-season push.
He’s played Quail Valley a couple times and said it suits his game, in part because of it’s length.
A successful repeat in the highest classification would match the feat of Lake Oswego’s Cole Madey, who went back-to-back in 2014 and ‘15. Prior to that, no one had done it since Craig Griswold in 1968 and ‘69.
The only other player to do it, according to records available dating to 1942, was Ontario’s Lynn Yturri in 1959 and ‘60.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email firstname.lastname@example.org