All season long Greater Spokane League golf coaches said it was anybody’s game during weekly matches. Mead’s Aaron Henderson proved a case in point.
He is one of three from the league’s third-place Panthers who came through as 4A GSL boys state qualifiers.
Both 4A and 3A boys and girls tournaments come to Spokane Tuesday and Wednesday. The 4A boys are at The Creek at Qualchan and the girls are at Downriver. The 3A boys are at MeadowWood with the girls at Liberty Lake. Tee times for all begin at 7:30 a.m. both days.
Of the three Panthers, Henderson, on the surface, is a most unlikely state qualifier. He finished fifth at 150, including a second-round 72 at Indian Canyon that was 10 strokes lower than his regular-season average.
“Actually, it’s kind of déjà vu all over again,” Mead coach Paul Peters said. “It’s a mirror image of last year when he was our only entrant to state. And it’s a similar storyline. He was mediocre during that season, too.”
When asked how he’s done it, Henderson shrugs.
“I ask myself that sometimes,” he said. “To tell the truth, I don’t know either. Golf’s a weird game, in my opinion.”
Teammates Evan Dyer, district runner-up at 144 by two strokes to Lewis and Clark medalist Robby McKee and a three-time top-nine finisher in league, and fourth-place finisher Steven Thoen, a top-five 4A league finisher three times who shot 149, join him.
“Steven had a solid year all the way along and Evan showed signs, he won the Wenatchee Invitational with a 67,” Peters said.
Henderson came out of hibernation when the weather warmed a bit, Peter said. He had finished no higher than 13th among 4A golfers during weekly GSL meets.
He said he abandoned a conservative approach at Indian Canyon after making the first-round cut, and his short game and putting clicked over the final 12 holes.
“It’s weird how that happens. I guess I’m just good at districts,” Henderson said, adding he seems to play well under pressure. “You’re playing fifth and sixth man (for your team) and all of a sudden you throw down a 72. It feels really good to say you made it to state your senior year.”
A couple of other state qualifiers also ramped up their games. CV sophomore Mark Beck opened the GSL with a 77, but was no better than a No. 3 man for the Bears in their remaining league matches. He shot 74 in the final league match, though, and it carried over in district.
Camus Chapman, a Ferris sophomore, usually 14th in league among 4A golfers, was sixth at district, shooting four strokes less than his league average. Saxons teammate Eric Ansett completes the field.
Lewis and Clark’s girls earned another shot at a state title by advancing four to state. Megan Haase hit full stride medaling at 146, seven shots up on teammate Sydney Kersten. Pilar Alfaro and Katie Larson join them. Mead’s Kristen Hansen, Ferris’ Nicole Berg and Gonzaga Prep’s Casey Mills round out the field.
“It should be to our advantage,” Peters said of Spokane’s state sites. “We know the courses and sleep in our own beds. Of course, you still have to play the game.”
Numbers favor ’Cats
Mt. Spokane’s boys and girls did what was needed for state success by securing eight of 10 3A berths to state.
The boys swept all five spots, with state veterans Tye Morrison (district medalist and a season-long GSL leader), Nick Thurston (34th last year), Zack Spencer and Marcus Bolam among them. Austin Billeter, two strokes off Morrison’s 149, joins them.
The trick Tuesday is to get as many as possible into the second day.
The Wildcats girls bring three, including defending champion Savana Bezdicek and her district champion sister, Sierra.
Bantams get wish
Clarkston golf coach Brian Frazier got his wish. The Bantams not only qualified their standout duo of Tyler Carlson and Michael Baldeck to state, but added three other qualifiers, bolstering their 2A team title bid set for Tuesday and Wednesday in Spanaway Lake.
“There was some concern early that the event might be delayed, canceled or even rescheduled because of very steady rains and cool temperatures,” host coach Craig McCormick said.
Following an hour delay at Palouse Ridge in Monday’s 2A regional, play went on.
“Luckily the course drains well and the staff did an amazing job to get the course ready to play,” McCormick said.
Carlson shot a blistering 6-under-par 66 despite the conditions for an eight-stroke victory over Baldeck and Ephrata’s Andrew Whalen.
Nine Great Northern League boys, including the Bantams’ Bo Baker, Brit Knapp and A.J. Barndt, will tee it up at The Classic Golf Course with times beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Eleven GNL girls, led by Pullman medalist and returning state sixth-placer Paige Whidbee, will start beginning at 7:30 at Lake Spanaway Golf Course. She shot 81 to win the regional by eight strokes.
The State 1A tournament, featuring returning runner-up Alyssa Maine of Freeman, is in DuPont. The 2B/1B, with defending champion Kira Powell of Odessa-Harrington, is at Lakewood.