EAST WENATCHEE — The greens were fast and the pin placements difficult, but that seemed to have little effect on the Wenatchee Panthers, who tore up the Wenatchee Country Club and Highlander over the past two days in the Big 9 District Golf Tournament.
As a team, the Panthers won by 20 strokes, shooting 689 as a group, and had three individuals place in the top-6; Hunter Swartz (81-80 - 161); Trey Stegeman (86-79 - 165) and Mason Brown (93-87 - 180). Rounding out the Panthers scores were Carson Huffaker, who placed 10th with a (95-92 - 187) and Jacob Christensen, who shot (114-98 - 212).
“I thought we did well yesterday at the Country Club. The conditions were more difficult and the scores were higher for all the teams, including our own,” Wenatchee boys head coach Evan Haske said Tuesday. “That first day was a bit of a shock to most of the boys and it took a little bit of their confidence out, but today we had scores more typical of what we had been shooting. It was a good day for us.”
With the district win, Wenatchee secures the lone team allocation in the Big 9 and will send five golfers to state. Swartz will be making his third appearance while Stegeman will be competing in his second state tournament.
Joining them are the four other Big 9 golfers who qualified, including Eastmont’s Jacob Bindley, who will also be making his second trip to state. Despite shooting a 10-over 46 on the front nine Monday, Bindley rallied on the back nine, carding a 39 for a first round 85. He then shot an 83 at Highlander, placing fifth overall and earning a bid to state.
“He saw that his tourney was getting away from him and took charge on the back nine,” Eastmont head coach Spencer Ellis said after Tuesday’s round. “Then today, he stepped up and made some big puts early in the round to keep his momentum going. The rest of the team fell a little short of expectations, but overall, we have some good stuff to build on going into next year and we’ll still have a young core together.”
Missing qualification by only a few strokes were Devyn Gurnard (94-94 - 188) and Evan Lord (94-96 - 190) who placed 11th and 12th respectively for the Wildcats.
All of the qualifiers will have the rest of the week to fine-tune their short-game or drives off the tee before heading over to Spokane on Monday for a practice round at the tournament course, the Creek at Qualchan, before the event begins Tuesday morning.
The field is set at 112.
There will be a cut after Tuesday’s round, eliminating half of the teams and leaving the top-20 individuals (plus ties) for the second round. Only the top-4 teams and top-8 individuals will be awarded. Even if the overall team is eliminated after day one, any individual who makes the cut will be allowed to compete on the second day for a chance to win the individual state title.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make the cut as a team,” Haske said. “Luckily we’ll have a chance to achieve that. If we can post some decent scores as a team and get in the mix with some of our guys, that would be something really memorable.”
Tee times will be released by the WIAA on Friday.