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Koch becomes the Falcons' first winner since 1991; Wilsonville boys finish sixth.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - La Salle junior William Koch makes a chip shot on his way to winning the Class 5A state championship at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis on Tuesday, May 17.It was worth the wait.

Just ask La Salle's William Koch.

Koch, a junior on the La Salle boys golf team, saw his freshman season canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions and his sophomore year limited to just six weeks with no district or state tournaments.

So when he finally got his chance to play at state — the Class 5A tournament was held at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis on Monday and Tuesday, May 16-17 — Koch proved it was worth the long wait to get there.

Koch shot a 1-over-par 70-73—143 for the 36-hole tournament to beat Corvallis senior runner-up Cole Rueck by two strokes, and in the process, became the second boys state champion in La Salle's long history. The first came when Bill Hart won the Class 3A/2A/1A state crown in 1991.

"It means a lot," Koch said. "It's something I've always looked forward to during high school."

Coming off a less than stellar finish to his abbreviated 2021 season, Koch's 2022 success meant even more.

"I had a lot to prove," he said. "... Last year made me want this even more. Me and my team were really ready to compete this year."

On the tournament's first day, Koch used two birdies and an eagle — a 3 on the 525-yard par-5 16th hole — to offset three bogeys for a 1-under-par 70. On day two, Koch notched four birdies to offset six bogeys for a 73 — the second best score of the day — that secured his state championship.

"Honestly, the only thing I was trying to do was not tell myself I had a shot at it," Koch said. "By that I mean, I told my coach, my dad and my teammates that I (didn't want anyone) to tell me the scores of anybody else. Just not let anything into my head and just stay in my own lane coming in."

Koch's efforts helped La Salle succeed as a team, too, with the Falcons finishing third overall at 664 to trail just Corvallis' 633 and Crater's 654.

The complete team scoring included: Corvallis 311-322—633, Crater 325-329—654, La Salle 335-329—664, Thurston 330-335—665, North Eugene 345-353—698, Crook County 360-344—704, Wilsonville 351-353—704, The Dalles 357-349—706.

"I'm proud of these guys," Koch said. "Everyone showed up."

After Koch's effort, sophomore William Jensen tied for 22nd at 85-81—166, freshman Jonas Cadell tied for 29th at 86-86—172, sophomore Dawson Stroud tied for 44th at 94-89—183 and sophomore Lucas Hungerford tied for 52nd at 94-96—190.

"I'll give a little shoutout to our freshman Jonas, who shot his personal best two days in a row," Koch added. "He's absolutely killing it."

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Wilsonville freshman Michael Flaherty hits a tee shot during the Class 5A state tournament at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis on Tuesday, May 17.

Wilsonville at state

Wilsonville's boys made their mark at state, too, finishing sixth at 351-353—704.

The Wildcats built their success on a balanced effort led by freshman Michael Flaherty, who placed 25th among 58 golfers by shooting 86-83—169.

He was followed by freshman Evan Hoobler (tied for 31st at 84-89—173), sophomore Max Nelson (tied for 41st at 91-89—180), sophomore Dax Sword (43rd at 90-92—182) and senior Cooper McQueen (58th at 109-97—206.

— Phil Hawkins contributed to this story.

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