Greg Schultz’s blessing is also his curse.
As the Mt. Spokane boys golf coach spoke to his six golfers on Tuesday evening following the final round of the District 8 3A tournament, the heaviness was just as visibile as the happiness.
The talented Wildcats finished first through sixth – including a three-way tie for first that went to a sudden death playoff – to capture all berths to next week’s state tournament. The only problem with that is only five of them advance.
“It’s been one great story after another this year and you’ve all been a real inspiration,” Schultz said, choking up while addressing his team. “I don’t know another way to say it. We knew it would come down to this. It’s hard to take complete joy in this.”
“It’s a curse to be this deep in this specific scenario, but first and foremost it’s a real blessing,” Schultz added later.
Junior Zack Spencer shot a season-best 70 to finish with a two-round total of 146 as the tournament moved from Downriver to MeadowWood for the final round.
Spencer then won with a birdie during a one-hole playoff on the first hole to break the three-way tie among him and teammates Nick Thurston and Tyler McQuilken – who both shot par during the playoff to tie for second.
“The front nine was a little all over the place, but the back nine was a lot steadier,” Spencer said. “I made some birdies on the front nine, so I knew it was there. On the back nine, I was able to pull in those bad shots a little from the holes I bogeyed on the front nine.”
Tye Morrison shot a 75 to finish fourth and Marcus Bolam’s 72 moved him into fifth, which left senior Austin Billeter – the Wildcats’ reigning three-time MVP – on the outside looking in. Billeter and Bolam both shot 77s in the first round, and on Tuesday Billeter finished with a 76.
“For the better part of his career, Austin Billiter was our best player,” Schultz said. “To see him not make it two years in a row is really hard on all of us.”
In the girls tournament, Mt. Spokane sisters Savana and Sierra Bezdicek finished first and second, respectively, after doing something they have been aiming for all season.
“We finally both shot well on the same day,” said Savana, who shot a 73 for a two-round total of 147 to earn medalist honors. Sierra’s 73 was a welcomed improvement from the uncommon 83 she shot in the opening round at Downriver.
“I had some birdies on both par 5s on the front nine and that felt great,” said Savana, who will golf at Northern Arizona next year. “I really want to finish strong – I’m the only senior on the team so it’s sinking in. But it was real even today, and I was really happy with my driver. It was good to look up and see it in the fairway.”
University’s Katie Ochoa (87) was third, Mt. Spokane’s Hailey Warren (93) was fourth and North Central teammates Madison McHenry-Kroetch (97) and Bridgid Rypien (90) tied for fifth to round out the top six.
The State 3A golf tournament is Tuesday and next Wednesday, with the boys at Indian Canyon and the girls at Esmeralda.