Westview, Jesuit, Sunset head Metro girls golf title hunt
Toward the top of the Metro League three titans have planted themselves as three of the teams to beat, not just in the district but at the Class 6A state championship meet.
Westview broke through the glass state ceiling last year and crushed the state field for the 6A crown, opening the door for what could be a three-year run of excellence. Sunset's history of coming up clutch in the pressure moments, as well as its enviable team chemistry, is well-documented. Jesuit's limitless talent level always lends itself to top-10 state finishes and clear Metro championship candidacy.
Beaverton, Southridge and Aloha all have individual state qualifiers back in the mix and are threats to punch state tournament tickets to Trysting Three via the regional tournament. There isn't an easy out in the district, which in turn betters the Metro as a whole.
"I think there is a strong argument to be made that the Metro League is the toughest league in the state," Sunset head coach Brent Buell said. "Westview is extremely talented, deep and experienced, coming off last year's state championship. The same adjectives could be used to describe Jesuit, who will no doubt challenge Westview for the league title. Their coaches do a great job of having their girls ready to play each week. After our third place finish last season, I'm excited to see where our off-season improvements puts us in the league pecking order because we can be sure that other teams have improved as well."
"The Metro League once again will be a very competitive league with multiple teams competing for the league title as well as an opportunity to compete in the state tournament," Westview head coach Patrick Baker said. "We hope that we will be able to compete well."
"After the first tournament it sure looks like it will be a hard fight between Westview and Jesuit for the team top spot with both Sunset and Beaverton having very solid teams as well," Southridge head coach Patrick Buckhalter said.
"Jesuit and Westview will have a battle for the title," Beaverton head coach Donna Smoot said. "They are both loaded with talent and two exciting teams to watch."
Following are previews for the 2018 Metro League girls golf season.
The Beavers have a rich tradition of sending selective individuals to the state tournament and this spring should be no different.
Junior Michiko Murai qualified for the state tournament last year and has been working on her game all winter and possesses "a lot of talent" according to Smoot. Junior Nicole Posner also qualified for state as a freshman and a sophomore. Posner was a key piece on the Beaverton girls basketball team that finished sixth at the state tourney but Smoot said Posner was excited to start working on her game and get up to speed.
Senior Sam Regali is the only senior on the Beaver squad but is one of Beaverton's "hardest workers and the most improved player" as well as the 2018 Evans Scholarship winner.
Junior Grayson Wright played a few varsity tournaments last year but will be a regular this year. Sophomore Lanie Lischke is new to the varsity team. She has shown lots of improvement from last year and will also be a regular, according to Smoot.
After finishing third at the 6A state championship last year, the Crusaders return four of their five starters and could very well give the Wildcats a run for their money.
Junior Tabatha King and sophomore Mary Scott Wolfe both placed in the state's top-20 as individuals, shooting an 82 and 83, respectively, on the second day of tournament play. Juniors Haley Hummelt and Clara Ganz were key contributors as well and add strength to a lineup that's deep and competitive. It's a foursome that could carry Jesuit even higher up the state leaderboard come May.
Though the Skyhawks only have two players suited up at the varsity level, Southridge senior Aerin Song and junior LeAnne Fischer are big-time competitors with state aspirations.
Song is "a very strong golfer in all aspects of the game and brings a lot of experience with her", according to Buckhalter. She has been to the state tournament twice as an individual and plays is many summer junior events as well.
"Her mental toughness is remarkable and she can quickly get refocused if something goes awry," Buckhalter said. "We are hoping that she can claim one of the individual spots for state to make it three in a row. Aerin finished in third place in our first Metro League tournament. She has signed to play at Oregon Tech starting next fall."
Fischer is a player who's worked diligently on the links and reaped the benefits when it comes to match play.
"LeAnne has been improving every year and her hard work is really paying off in her overall game and the confidence she is bringing to the course," Buckhalter said. "She has really developed in her course management and short game around the green."
The other six members of the Skyhawks are seniors Rowan Frank and Hailey Randall, juniors Brooklyn Sheehan and Jane Morey and sophomores Julia Takahashi and Sidney O'Billovich.
"They are all great athletes and looking to get better at golf this year," Buckhalter said. "It is amazing how much they have improved in a couple short weeks."
The Apollos can never be counted out when it comes to the postseason.
Sunset's solo abilities are topped only by an indestructible team cohesiveness that's rare for a sport that leans toward the individual.
Senior Alisa Kobayashi has had one of the most decorated careers in Sunset history, according to Buell. She's been a part of two league championship teams, played in three state tournaments and has earned numerous Metro League honors.
"She is as consistent a player as we've had in a few years, and she is someone we absolutely rely on to put up good scores each week," Buell said. "She has the perfect demeanor for golf, never getting too high or too low, and it's bittersweet to have her beginning her senior year because she will be missed."
Sophomore Franca Polla took Metro by storm as a freshman last year, earning all-league, and is only getting better each and every day, Buell said.
"Her strength is her ability to hit the ball as far as anyone in the state," Buell said. "She's overcoming an off-season injury, and her game has been rounding back into form during March. She's got a huge upside and I think she's just scratching the surface in terms of her ability. By the time she is a senior, she could be one of the top golfers in the state."
Senior Lauren Preston has had a "huge impact on the team both on and off the course." While her game has improved considerably, Buell said her biggest contribution is creating and upholding the team values Sunset builds its program on.
"More importantly, she's the touchstone of our team," Buell said. "We rely on her to do all the 'little things' that make a group of individuals truly become a cohesive unit, and has helped us to build a positive culture."
Senior Megan Pearce has "a fabulous golf swing and has become a really solid player," for the Apollos, Buell said.
"The improvement she has made has been very evident during the pre-season, and we will need her to continue to play the way she's played during March," Buell said. "Her enthusiasm for the game has acted as a great model for the younger golfers in our program."
Juniors Kyli Layden and Emily Molitor are in their first seasons as varsity players, but have already shown promise and capability to be key contributors down the road.
"We'll need our returning all-Metro players to continue their solid play, and other golfers to perform well as well," Buell said. "Our team has taken on a great attitude with a mix of working hard while having fun, and I think our cohesion and positive attitude will help us compete."
Coming off a rain-soaked, wind-swept, hard-earned state championship, the Wildcats could very well be in line for back-to-back titles considering the returning talent on the roster.
Westview brings back all five members of their state squad including junior stars Jessica Ponce and May Wang, as well as sophomore Alexa Udom, senior Cassidy Kraus and junior Jennifer Kang. Ponce tied for second at state last year while Wang tied for eighth. Kang and Udom both finished inside the state's top-20 as individuals. As the defending Metro and state champs, Westview will have the target on their back through Trysting Tree, but the even-keeled, super talented Wildcats are well-equipped to handle the spotlight.
"Our team is a complete team with all players fulfilling the roles needed for success," Baker said. "Our team works because we are not individuals all have the qualities you would want out of leaders: great communicators, led by example, great personal character, and concern for the team above themselves."