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LC tempers enthusiasm after golf sweep

There were mixed feelings all around following Thursday’s final round of the District 8 4A high school golf tournaments at The Creek at Qualchan.

As expected, Lewis and Clark dominated both the boys and girls events by qualifying five golfers – including senior medalists Christian Alfaro and Chessey Thomas – for the State 4A tournaments May 25 and 26 in the Tri-Cities.

But neither LC’s boys coach Jim Travis nor Tigers girls coach Michelle Grafos were completely satisfied.

“We’re happy, but not happy,” Travis said, just moments after Alfaro, a senior, posted a 1-over-par 73 to finish as the top individual with a 36-hole total of 4-under 140 that was three shots better than senior teammate and runner-up Peter Gullickson’s 142.

“We’re disappointed that we didn’t get a couple of other boys in, but we’re really happy for the three that are going.”

Grafos echoed Travis’ sentiments, labeling her team’s effort – which produced a pair of state-tournament qualifiers in Thomas and sophomore runner-up Megan Haase – “bittersweet.”

“I’ve got two kids going, which is great,” she said. “But I’ve got two who aren’t and probably should be. It’s hard to get out of Spokane, and it’s really frustrating that we only get six (state tournament) berths, considering how well our kids play.”

Boys

Alfaro, who will make his fourth straight trip to state, fought a difficult Qualchan layout to a draw by rolling in five birdie putts, including a 30-foot snake on the par-5 16th and a testy 5-footer on the par-5 closing hole.

“I put myself in position to make a lot of birdies out there today, and never really got myself in any serious trouble,” said Alfaro, who entered the final round with a two-stroke lead over Gullickson after opening with a 5-under 67 at MeadowWood Golf Course on Tuesday.

“It was really tough out there, but I was hitting my irons where I wanted to most of the day, and I made a lot putts and just hung in there, I guess.”

Alfaro’s only major hiccup came at the downhill par-3 11th, where he blew his tee shot over the green, chipped to within 20 feet and took three putts to get down.

Gullickson, who shot 69 on Tuesday, equaled Alfaro’s closing-round 73 and finished three shots ahead of Ferris senior Garrett Howard (145). The other three state qualifiers from District 8 are Mead junior Aaron Henderson (148), LC junior Robby McKee (149) and Central Valley sophomore Joel Christianson (150).

The Tigers also claimed the state alternate spots when sophomore J.M. Larson finished seventh at 151 and senior Justin Haase placed eighth at 154.

Girls

Thomas, the defending State 4A champion, was the class of the district field again, tacking a closing round of 2-under 70 onto the classy 4-under opening round she fashioned at MeadowWood on Tuesday.

Her 6-under total of 138 was six strokes ahead of Haase and 15 better than the 153 that earned Mead sophomore Kristen Hansen a third-place finish.

Thomas was 5 under on her round heading to the 17th tee, but made a double-bogey six there, and then closed with a bogey-5 on the 18th, which the girls played as a par-4.

Thomas, Haase and Hansen will be joined at state by University senior Kaitlen Parsons, who finished fourth at 156, and Gonzaga Prep seniors Jenna Speltz (157) and Elaine Whaley (159).

The alternates are LC’s Sydney Kersten (160), a sophomore, and her junior teammate Pilar Alfaro (173).