Golf: Girls to field full team as boys rebuild from last year

Scott Swanson

Sweet Home will have a full girls golf team this year for the first time in recent memory and this may be a good year for that to happen, Coach Pat Davis says.

The Huskies have six girls out this year, led by Hayley May, then a freshman, who finished in the top 10 of the 50-some-girl field in last year’s district tournament, and Alayna Davis, also a freshman last year, who finished in the top third of that tournament.

“We do have a girls team, which is exciting,” Pat Davis said. “We can go to all-women’s events this year.”

On the boys side, the Huskies don’t have a lot of returning experience from last year’s varsity. Junior Dawson Guzman is the only returnee who played in the district tournament.

But senior John Fonseca played in a couple of varsity outings in 2015 and three sophomores are expected to round out the varsity, at least to get things started.

They are Jake Hindmarsh, Seth Wright and Jackson Lynn, “who’ve gotten bigger and stronger,” Davis said.

“Their swings have improved. All three will be varsity golfers. They’re all shooting 100 to 105 right now and I’m hoping they’re in the low 90s by the end of year. That would give us a shot.

“All three can play, and they all like to play. They do it on their own.”

The three sophomores hold promise for the future, if they stick with it, he said.

“They could be better by the time they’re seniors than Michael Tolle, Stephen Bishop and Bryce Daniels were.”

That trio led Sweet Home to eighth place at state in 2014, the year before Davis took over as coach – the highest team finish ever, as far as he can tell, he said.

The key factor this season will be how fast Sweet Home’s boys can progress, which will come down to how seriously they take the game.

The Huskies finished fifth out of nine teams last year in the District 2 playoffs, which combined the Sky-Em and Oregon West conferences.

Though they were disappointed with their finish, they did card a 398 on the first day of the tournament at Tokatee, outside of Blue River, which was a goal of theirs – to break 400 at that course. Their second-day score kept them out of the state playoffs – a 421.

Rounding out the boys team are senior Cameron Lucas, junior Chance Holley, sophomore Colby Montique and freshman Zach Rivera.

On the girls side, exchange student Coco Tairiku adds experience and talent to the roster, having had some playing experience in Japan.

Also out are sophomores Liz Chelstad and Tori Ingram, and freshman Nichole Grady. They are coming into the game raw in experience but Davis said he sees some natural ability.

“If we can get one girl to step up and be our fourth scorer, who knows?” he said. “It would be exciting to see.”

The schedules for all the teams are still in flux, he said, but as of last week, he had the girls scheduled for six tournaments, starting April 20 at the Oregon Golf Association course in Woodburn.

“Probably the most exciting thing is that, because we have a full team, we will play a number of girls-only meets this year.

“That will be good for Hayley and Alayna, who will play against girls who are better than they are now, not just JV boys. We can possibly get into state as a team or as individuals.”

As far as the league is concerned, on the boys side Junction City, which qualified for state (along with Cottage Grove and Stayton) in last year’s District 2 tournament, has all of its varsity players back, making it the favorite, Davis said.

Sutherlin had some good golfers last year, just not enough for a full team, but he said the Bulldogs may have numbers this year, which makes them a favorite, along with North Marion, to qualify for state.

Davis said that if Lynn and Wright “come around,” the Huskies have an “outside shot” at a state berth.

The boys open Thursday, March 17 at Tokatee in Blue River, site of this year’s district tournament.