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Golf ball. (Associated Press)

Southridge boys edge Mt. Spokane at State 3A

Consider Juanita golfer Frank Garber’s State 3A championship an act of one-upmanship.

The precocious sophomore shot a 6-under-par 65 Wednesday afternoon at Indian Canyon to distance himself from the field – and outdo his dad.

Garber’s was the individual highlight concluding the two-day state event.

But there was also team excitement for Mt. Spokane, as the five-golfer deep Wildcats finished second. Their 94 points were a mere two points behind boys team champion Southridge.

Garber’s father Rick played at Oregon State University and said he once shot 66 at the Canyon in a Spokane tournament. He was delighted that his son’s up-and-down on the 18th hole settled No. 1 in the family on that course.

“I just focus on my targets and don’t focus on anyone else,” Frank said of his victory. “I pick a target and hit it.”

He had opened with a 1-under 70 on Tuesday, a stroke behind the leaders. Wednesday’s beauty resulted in a nine-stroke triumph.

A golfer since age 2, success has followed Garber. His best score has been a 62. He’s won numerous tournaments, including twice in Scotland against “some really good European players.”

As for Indian Canyon, he said, “I really like this course. I just like the subtle kind of difficulties, I guess you could say. I also like it because most of the holes are dogleg left. It sort of suits my style.”

He said driving is his strength, but solid putting won the tournament.

For Mt. Spokane, there was strength in numbers. All five qualifiers made the cut and averaged between 74 and 80 for the two days. Juniors Zack Spencer, who tied for eighth with a total 148, and Nick Thurston, who bounced back from Tuesday’s 79 to score 75, led the way.

Spencer, a scratch golfer, was thinking 142.

“Today I probably played a bit worse, but finished better (73),” he said. “I just missed some fairways and didn’t carry off the tees sometimes.”

When asked why the four-stroke improved, Thurston said, “putting. I took 37 yesterday and a lot less today.”

He added that Mt. Spokane wanted to focus on team.

“Every shot counted. We wanted to focus and make sure we took advantage of our opportunity.”

That they did and were rewarded, capping a four-year run with a two-spot improvement over last year’s fourth-place effort.

“When you accomplish every single goal you set out, literally in the seventh grade and get to work with kids who are gifted and truly exemplary young men, it’s a very rare opportunity,” coach Greg Schultz said before the awards ceremony. “No matter how it turns out, you can’t be disappointed. It’s how things roll.”

He shouldn’t. The Wildcats could only have finished three points better.