Forest Grove wins back-to-back league events to move into a tie with reigning champion Tualatin

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Forest Grove senior Hannah Swanson chips onto the green during last Monday's tournament in Tualatin.This spring could be shaping into a special one for the Forest Grove girls golf team.

Led by reigning state champion Hannah Swanson, the Vikings recently powered to team victories in the second and third league matches of the season, allowing them to leap into a tie atop the Pacific Conference standings entering this week.

“They are doing fantastic,” coach Bobby Rymer said Tuesday by phone in advance of his squad’s fourth contest of the season, at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course in Newberg.

The two victories came after the team opened the spring in a somewhat inauspicious fashion with a fourth-place finish and a 468 score at Michelbook on April 1.

“Most of the girls don’t play until golf season starts, and so it’s knocking the dust off and getting going,” Rymer said. “Hannah was ready to go from the beginning. When she gets to match days, guns are blazing and her focus is completely different. With the other girls, I think it’s just a matter of getting the feel back and getting into the mode.

“That first match, the other teams played pretty darn good too, considering, and we just didn’t play as well.”

But the Vikings got better in a hurry, ripping off a win at Pumpkin Ridge the following week. And on April 14, they backed up that win at Tualatin Country Club. Paced by Swanson’s winning score of 73, Forest Grove shot a 383, easily besting Tualatin (407) and McMinnville (427), the two teams the Vikings are battling for conference supremacy.

Tualatin is the reigning league champion, while Forest Grove qualified for state as a team last season for the first time in school history. This time around, two of the Timberwolves’ top players have been out of the lineup at times, Rymer said, dealing with injury and illness.

The Vikings certainly have been taking advantage. For Swanson, last week’s victory was her third in as many tries, while Emily Keller added a solid score of 87. Amanda Horne (110) and Kate Colter (113) rounded out the team’s scoring. Madison Woods (122) also participated.

The win left the Vikings and Timberwolves all even with 36 points apiece and with three matches to go before the district tournament. The Grizzlies were just two points back in third place.

Of course, Swanson has certainly played a prominent role in helping her team to the top of the leader board. Through three matches, the Oregon State-bound senior had been incredibly consistent — putting up scores of 74, 72 and 73 — fulfilling a goal she stated at the beginning of the spring to start the season more strongly.

“When she has her mind set to something, she can go out and get it, which is pretty cool,” Rymer said.

Rymer also was excited about the progress some of his other players have been making. Keller shot a 100 at Pumpkin Ridge and then blew that out of the water with her 87 last week at Tualatin.

And Colter, just a freshman and the team’s lone nonsenior, is improving by leaps and bounds. She was shooting in the 140s not all that long ago but trimmed that score all the way down to a 113 last week.

“She’s really gotten quite a bit better and I’ve helped her with a little bit of instruction on the swing since she’s gotten started, and it’s paid off,” Rymer said. “She’s grasping the things that she needs to do to be able to hit the ball better, and she certainly showed that in the Tualatin match.”

And with the heart of the season still on the horizon, the best could be yet to come — for her and for Forest Grove.

Note: Results for Tuesday’s contest at Chehalem Glenn were not available at press deadline. The Vikings are back in action next Tuesday, hosting a league tournament at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.

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