Golf: Woodburn girls place sixth at state tournament
The way the Woodburn girls golf team has been steadily improving over the course of the past two months, it's unfortunate that the 2018 season came to a close last week.
The Bulldogs wrapped up the year with their best finish in team history, closing out with back-to-back season best scores to place sixth overall at the 5A Girls Golf State Championship tournament at Trysting Tree Golf Course in Corvallis on May 14-15.
"I'm really proud of our kids," head coach Neil Wilhelm said. "They proved they belonged in the conversation as one of the best teams in the state and garnered respect throughout the state for our program."
All four participating members of the Woodburn girls golf team set new personal records on at least one of the two days at state, finishing the first day with a season-best score of 394 and followed by shaving eight more strokes on the second day by shooting a 386. The team's two-day score of 780 put them five strokes behind fifth-place Pendleton.
"They showed toughness, resilience and a high level of focus though out the tournament, while dealing with an incredible amount of pressure," Wilhelm said. "They stood toe-to-toe with the top teams and players in the state and never backed down."
Junior Bailey Woolley and sophomore Haley Elsasser led the team with two-day scores of 185 to finish tied for 15th place in the individual standings. Senior Efrosenya Toran placed 27th at 203, while junior April Vasquez finished just behind in 32nd with a score of 207.
The Bulldogs came out of the gate with blistering efficiency across the course in the first day of competition. Woolley, Toran and Elsasser all finished with career-best scores of 92, 96 and 97 respectively.
But the second day belonged to Elsasser, who is quickly making Trysting Tree her home away from home. The sophomore shaved nine more strokes off her PR from the previous day to finish with a new best score of 88.
"Right now, this is like my favorite course," Elsasser said before the state competition. "I love playing it; it's so open."
Elsasser opened with bogeys on her first four holes, followed by a par of the fifth. She ran into trouble on the latter half of the front nine, with double bogeys on the seventh and ninth holes. But her front nine score of 46 still put her on pace to blow her previous best out of the water.
On the back nine, she was even more impressive. Elsasser started with back-to-back pars and added another on the 14th. She scored bogeys on the rest of the holes for a +6 score of 42.
Vasquez, who was pressed into full-time play after the team's senior veteran Maddie Castro was aggravated a knee injury just before the regional qualifier the week before, finished the first day with a score 109, but came roaring back on day two to set a new personal best of 98.
Vasquez entered the tournament looking to break 100 for the first time and has seen the most improvement out of any Woodburn golfer this season.
"I don't want to shoot like 95, I want to shoot in the 80s," Vasquez said going into the tournament. "I went from a 141, which was my worst score in the league, to 100. I shaved off 40 strokes."
The steady improvement has been the name of the game for the Woodburn girls this season. The two days of play at the state championship were the fifth and sixth time the Bulldogs have played at Trysting Tree over the past six weeks. Every time Woodburn has played the course, they have knocked more strokes off their total team score, going from 443 on April 23 to the team's 386 on day two of state.
For the team's two seniors — Castro and Toran — it was the last chance to be a part of the team, Toran from the course and Castro from the sidelines.
"It's a little hard because it's my senior year and I want to be out there with them," Castro said. "I'm glad to be a part of the girls golf team making history twice."
While Castro will be using her summer to rehabilitate her knee after surgery, she'll continue to be a big supporter of the program and will help her freshman sister Bailey Castro make a push to earn a spot on varsity next year.
Toran, meanwhile, will forego summer golf as she tours Moscow and St. Petersberg with her family.
"I was going to go golfing with a JV girl all summer, but I was actually going to go to Russia for a whole month sightseeing," she said. "It's going to be an experience."
Woodburn boys golf
For the Woodburn boys, the team is hoping that this year's run to the state championship is the first of many on the horizon.
The Bulldogs finished 10th in the final standings after the two day tournament at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell on May 14-15. Led by junior Chris Krivoshein and freshman Cole Beyer, Woodburn shot a combined two-day score of 767 (389, 378). While that put the Bulldogs at the bottom of the team standings, 20 strokes behind ninth-place Wilsonville, Woodburn's return to the state tournament is well ahead of expectations, given the relative youth of the varsity team.
"I've got two freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors, and they're all getting better every day," Head Coach Ken Ellis said. "Last year in districts we shot a 403. My challenge to them was, 'If you guys break 400, we'll go to dinner.' This year the first match is like 354 and I'm like, 'Ooh, this could get expensive.'"
Krivoshein led the team with a score of 186 (95, 91), followed by Beyer at 187 (95, 92), as the pair finished back-to-back in the team standings at 34th and 35th, respectively.
Sophomore Maverick Cheremnov was 39th at 192 (101, 91), followed by junior Jose Ochoa in 48th at 203 (99, 104) and freshman Jordan Blem bringing up the rear in 50th at 207 (100, 107).
The team's dedication to each other and to the game is what Ellis hopes will propel them throughout the summer and into next season. Despite the fact the kids are playing in an individual sport, Ellis wants to instill a team the kind of team camaraderie he helps employ as an assistant for the Woodburn football team.
"We talk about being a family, loving each other, picking each other up," Ellis said. "Kind of the football concept."