Banks, Forest Grove, Glencoe send golfers to state
It took a while, but for the first time in school history the Banks Braves are sending their boys golf team to state.
The Braves placed third amongst the eight qualifying teams at the 4A-SD1 Special District 1 Regional Tournament this past Monday and Tuesday, May 6 and 7, at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks, and in the process qualified five kids, including Liam Burr, Aaron Brown, Jake Walters, Hunter Geisbers, and Jaden Loza for the OSAA 4A State Tournament to be played May 13 and 14, also at Quail Valley.
"The team really stepped up to the challenge," Banks head coach Geoff Marlatt said. "The players have worked very hard on their games, and under tournament conditions really came through."
Banks was led by Burr who placed sixth individually with a two-day total of 170. The senior carded back-to-back 85's and — per usual — leaned heavily on his short game to work his way around the course.
"Liam (Birr) came on late in the season and performed his best at regionals," said Marlatt. "He's a great putter and has a solid short game."
Marlatt said Birr's performance, along with the way he went about it, was indicative of the work his team has been putting in at practice in recent weeks.
"Our focus has been on the putting green and working from 100 yards and in," the coach said. "All the players have been engaged in the process and have been getting better each day."
The coach spoke glowingly about his team, and spoke more specifically about how well they've worked together. Along with Birr and fellow seniors, Giesbers and Loza, the Braves underclassmen have meshed well with their more veteran talent.
"We have a great young nucleus of players," Marlatt said. "Freshman Aaron Brown has been outstanding, and Jake Walters is continuing to improve each day and is a solid competitor."
And how does the coach feel about his team's performance and their approach as they head to state?
"I'm super proud of what they have achieved," he said. "We talked early in the year about seizing the moment, so our focus will be to trust and believe in our game, and go out and enjoy the experience and sum up a great season."
Banks won't be the only local school represented at state either. Glencoe's Gage Landaker and Forest Grove's Parker Eakin both qualified for the OSAA 6A State Tournament also May 13 and 14, but to be played at Trysting Tree Golf Course in Corvallis.
Eakin qualified based on his fifth place individual finish in the Pacific Conference over the league's six weekly events. The Viking senior finished strong, carding rounds of 78 and 76 over the season's final two events, his lowest rounds of the year.
Landaker placed sixth in the conference, but qualified as a member of the top-5 individuals minus the members of the state qualifying teams, Sherwood and Newberg.