Clackamas' Nick Lasko goes low, leads Cavs to boys' golf district title
For the second day in a row, Clackamas junior Nick Lasko steered clear of the trees at Glendoveer-East Golf Course and was rewarded with a district title.
Lasko closed with a round of 2-under-par 71 Tuesday and finished with a two-day total of even-par 146 to claim medalist honors at the Mt. Hood Conference boys' golf championships by six shots over Oregon City's Max Fabrycki.
Clackamas' Ethan Akers, Jacob Allen, Tyler Whittaker also placed among the top 14 finishers as the Cavaliers defeated Central Catholic 652-675 to clinch their third consecutive district team title and secure the league's automatic berth into the May 14-15 OSAA Class 6A state tournament at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell.
Lasko, coming off an opening-round 75 on Monday, played the nines in reverse order Tuesday and offset a pair of bogeys with four birdies, knocking down a one-foot birdie putt at No. 10, a 25-foot putt at No. 11, a 10-foot putt at No. 14, and another one-foot putt at No. 3.
"Each week, you grind on the range and grind in practice for moments like this," Lasko said. "So, to win it is a great feeling.
"A big key for me was keeping it in play. I hit my driver really well and hit a lot of fairways, and that gave me a lot of opportunities to hit greens and get it close."
Fabrycki, the Oregon City junior who played in Tuesday's final foursome with Barlow's Evan Inglesby, Central Catholic's Logan Kelly, and Lasko, started the final round two strokes off the pace, but fell six shots behind the leader after bogeys at No. 10 and No. 11 -- the same two holes where Lasko made birdies.
Barlow's Ethan Hoover bounced back from an opening-round 86 and shot 1-over 74 Tuesday to climb over 11 other golfers and finished tied with Kelly for third at 14-over 160.
David Douglas' Andrew Barker closed with a 79 to finish alone in fifth place at 161.
In the team race, Central Catholic forged a 330-332 lead over Clackamas, with David Douglas a distant third at 355 after Monday's round.
On Tuesday, the Cavaliers enjoyed a 27-stroke swing that saw them improve by 12 shots, while the Rams went 15 shots in the other direction.
Akers, a senior, followed up his opening-round 89 with a 78 to finish alone in seventh at 167, while Allen, another senior, closed with an 85 after opening with a 91 and finished 14th at 176.
Whittaker, who also figured in the team scoring for Clackamas, shot rounds of 82 and 86 to finish alone in eighth play at 168.,
"I'm really proud of the guys especially after day one when we had some ground to make up," Cavaliers coach Mike Freeborn said. "It was good to see that they were able to respond to that pressure and play well."
Lasko said Central Catholic two-shot lead after Monday's round got everybody attention.
"It was motivation for me, as I'm sure I was for everyone else on the team," Lasko said. "We really, really wanted it. We didn't want to have to go to regionals and have to stress over that."
The Cavaliers earned a bye from next week's one-day regional qualifying tournament at the OGA Course in Woodburn on Tuesday, while Central Catholic, David Douglas, and Oregon City will square off with three other teams from the Three Rivers League to determine three at-large teams berth to the state championships.
"A week off from competition is a really good thing from the standpoint of being able to get back to school and focus on making up all the work that we missed," Freeborn said. "It also gives us an opportunity to recharge or batteries and go down a play a practice round at Emerald Valley."
Clackamas has come home with state team trophies each of thepast two season, finishing fourth in 2016 and second last year when Cavaliers' sophomore Sam Pyon also won an individual title at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
Pyon was declared academically ineligible before the start of this season, dealing a potentially serious blow to Clackamas' state title hopes, although Freeborn insists the Cavaliers still have enough talent to be among the teams in the trophy chase.
"I think a good goal for us in to finish in the top five, and antying better than that we'll be really happy with," Freeborn said. "We'll definitely need to play better at Emerald Valley than we did here at Glendoveer, but if we play more consistently over the course of the two days, I think we can do it."
Lasko, who took medalist honors at five of the Mt. Hood Conference's six regular-season matches in addition to his district title, expects to be in the hunt for an individual state title.
"I really believe I could win it," Lasko said. "I know a lot of the kids that are going to be up there who play a lot of OGA events and other outside tournaments. There are probably five, six, or seven guys who are equally talented, so it could be anyone -- whoever has two good days.
"I've played Emerald Valley a few times. You can score there as long as you keep it in play, similar to this course. But, again, you've got to hit fairways to give yourself a chance to hit it close and make birdies. That's really key for anyone."