Woodburn boys advance to state
Heading into the state qualifying Regional Championship at Tokatee Golf Club on May 7-8, the Woodburn boys golf team had already done something that no other class of golfers had done in school history — win a league title.
Finishing second at the regional tournament and qualifying for state for the second year in a row was merely the icing on the cake.
The Bulldogs punched their ticket to the 2019 4A State Championship last week behind a top-5 finish from sophomore Cole Beyer, staging a second-day rally to overtake the Stayton Eagles for second place in the regional tournament behind top ranked Marist. Woodburn's two-day score of 716 was just enough to outpace Stayton's 722.
"I'm extremely proud of them," Woodburn head coach Ken Ellis said. "I never have to worry about what they're doing. I don't even have to say anything. They want to do it, they want to have success, and that's a pretty cool deal."
Woodburn entered the regional tournament having earned the league title the week prior. While the Oregon West Conference didn't have enough full teams to warrant a proper league championship, instead sending all of its available teams to the regional tournament, the conference still awarded its league title to Woodburn for leading the conference standings throughout the season.
"They considered us league champs and they gave us a trophy for it," Ellis said, making this the first Woodburn boys team to ever earn the award.
From there Woodburn needed to finish in the top three at the regional tournament to qualify for state for the second year in a row.
The Spartans paced all teams with a combined score of 617, finishing with the top two golfers and five of the top nine individual scores. Behind them, the Bulldogs and Eagles — newly-forged league rivals as a result of Woodburn's move to the 4A at the beginning of the season — fought hard for the runner-up spot.
With fourth-place Sweet Home far in the distance, Woodburn and Stayton had all but locked up the final two state qualifying spots awarded to the Special District 2 region heading into the second day of competition. At stake was only pride and a trophy awarded to the regional runner-up.
"The top three went to state, and there wasn't anyone really close at No. 4, so we said do we want to take a trophy home or do we just want to go to state?" Ellis said.
Stayton had shot a 362 on the opening day, but the Bulldogs were nipping at their heels with a 364, led by Beyer, who shot a blistering two-over score of 38 on the back nine at Tokatee to lead the team with an 80 overall. Teammates Chris Krivoshein (93), Jordon Blem (95), and Jose Ochoa (96) were not far behind fighting to lead the middle of the pack, while Edwin Silva brought up the rear with a 104.
The second day was similar, with the Eagles' top three golfers of Evan Massena, Tyler Del Grande and James Bridge all shooting in the '80s. But with Stayton's fourth varsity member Colby Padua scoring a 101 to bring their final team score to 360, it was enough of an opening for the Woodburn golfers to take advantage of.
While Beyer was unable to repeat his first-day performance, shooting an 83 for the day to take a two-day score of 163, his teammates stepped up to deliver the rally.
Ochoa improved his score by six strokes, birdying the par-5 12th hole en route to a 90. Krivoshein also recorded a par-5 birdie, on the third hole, and knocked two strokes off his previous score to notch 91.
But it was Blem who had the biggest improvement, scoring 88 to shave seven strokes off his day-one score to give Woodburn a combined score of 352. It was just enough for the Bulldogs to overtake the Eagles.
From here, Woodburn was scheduled to play in the state championship at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell on May 13-14, where the team is hoping to come home with a top-four finish.
"We know we can," Ochoa said. "If we really go out there and play, we can compete. I feel like within each other, if we can keep up both days, we can make something happen."