One familiar name and one newcomer are at the top of the standings after two of the Greater Spokane League’s five golf tournaments.
Mt. Spokane’s girls, GSL champions in 2013 and 2014, took first at league tourneys at Esmeralda and Downriver. Central Valley claimed top honors on the boys’ side, putting the Bears in position for the program’s first league title.
“I have 23 girls out,” said Wildcats coach Eleen Northcutt, who brought home the school’s first state title in any sport in 2014. “I was blown out of the water when I saw so many girls coming into the room for the preseason orientation meeting. My first words were, ‘Are you all here for golf?’”
Cailin Spencer, the lone senior on varsity, and junior Megan Billeter shot in the 70s in both matches. The two Wildcats and Gonzaga Prep senior Kelly Hooper should be in the mix for individual champion. Hooper was third in the GSL last year and sixth at state.
“Cailin and Megan kind of set the tone and they’ve shown if you work hard these scores will come,” Northcutt said. “This is a fun, energetic group and they seem to bond well together.”
Mt. Spokane won at Esmeralda by five shots over defending champ Lewis and Clark and by nine shots over Gonzaga Prep. The Tigers have four players averaging in the mid to high 80s, led by sophomore Skylar Kersten’s 84.5 and senior Jessica McCourt’s 85.5.
Gonzaga Prep placed second at Downriver, nine shots behind Mt. Spokane and three strokes in front of LC. Hooper’s 74 was the lowest score in the field.
On Friday, Billeter collected three birdies after the turn and shot a 68 to lead the Wildcats to a win in the 30th Big East Invite at Wandermere. Mt. Spokane shot a 227, easily outdistancing the field. Kamiakin was next at 243 and Gonzaga Prep followed with a 253.
Central Valley has never won the boys’ championship, according to GSL records dating back to 1976-77.
“I’m not a stat guy,” coach Steve Rasmussen said. “I just show up and have fun and we just go play golf.
“Beyond any scores, any wins or whatever, this is just a quality group of guys that hang out together so it’s really fun for me.”
The Bears have a good thing going. They’re experienced at the top with returning state qualifiers Jake Dringle and Cole Howard. Freshman Riley Hadley fired rounds of 73 and 72 in GSL tourneys. Isaac Emerson, Zach Stocker and Brady Sanders round out a deep lineup.
Dringle posted 70 at Esmeralda and 72 at Downriver. Dringle and Mt. Spokane’s Sam Stiles each shot 70 Thursday at Liberty Lake in the East Valley Invite with Dringle winning medalist honors in a playoff. Six Bears made the top 10, including Stocker (71) and Hadley (73).
“I knew I had several kids in the pipeline but golf is interesting,” Rasmussen said. “It’s just like cross country, it’s not so much about coming in first or second, it’s how deep you are.”
CV shot 377 at Esmeralda and at Downriver. Mead, behind sophomore Nick Muxlow’s 71, finished second at Esmeralda. Mt. Spokane, paced by Stiles’ 66, took second at Downriver.
“We had a tournament Rogers hosted before the (GSL) season got started and CV had their top kids there,” Mead coach Paul Peters said. “I could just see it. When a team has a stud like Dringle – by the way, he’s a really nice stud, a great kid – and they had a supporting cast you could see they were going to be great.”
Dringle, Hadley, Stiles, Gonzaga Prep’s Jake Plaster and Patrick Parelius, Mead’s Muxlow and Nicholas Kim, Shadle Park’s Mitchell Weipert and LC’s Chase Mickelson are on a long list of contenders for the individual crown.
All five 3A state qualifiers from last season return: Mt. Spokane’s Stiles and Ross Morrison and Shadle Park’s Weipert and Phillip Flexer and North Central’s Izach Tabish.
“It’s going to be a really interesting battle,” Mt. Spokane’s Greg Schultz said. “We’re going to leave some really good players at home.”