Gonzaga Prep coasted to the State 4A boys championship last year, but the change to a team scoring format has created a crowded leaderboard after the first day of the 2019 tournament.
That’s just fine with Bullpups coach Dennis Dougherty.
“I love that it’s teams,” said Dougherty, after his squad moved into first place with a 5-over-par 293 Tuesday at The Creek at Qualchan. “We have a chance to play for it (the title) and we’ll get to play with the closest teams. That makes this kind of fun and exciting.”
Eastlake and Kamiak are two strokes behind at 295, followed by Mt. Si at 303. Sixth-place Central Valley (310) advanced to Wednesday’s final round.
G-Prep junior Nate Plaster birdied four of the first six holes and carded a 3-under 69 to share the lead with Eastlake’s Costas Panay. Mt. Si’s Drew Warford, the 2018 champ, shot a 71.
The Mead girls battled through an up-and-down day at Hangman Valley to grab second place at 340, five shots behind Redmond. Camas is at 342 and Lewis and Clark is fourth at 346.
LC junior Darby Rickel led Greater Spokane League players with an 80, 10 shots behind Redmond’s Adethi Anand, Bellarmine Prep’s Julia Bordeaux and Mount Rainier’s Kennedy Knox.
Plaster knocked in 5-footers for birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 before draining a 20-footer on the tough, 215-yard par-3 fourth. He moved to 4 under with a short birdie putt on No. 6.
“Putting,” Plaster said of his fast start. “I’m still hitting the ball good, but I made some putts and I put myself in the right positions.”
That was important with pins tucked in some difficult locations.
“I basically just hit to the middle of the greens,” said Plaster, who has committed to Washington State. “Depending on whether (the pin was) on the left or right, I’d hit a draw or cut.”
Plaster was all business, particularly on the demanding two-hole stretch at 11 and 12. He sprayed his tee shot on the par-3 11th, leaving him short-sided with the pin on the far right. Tommy Kimmel, leaving the 10th tee box, came over to chat with Plaster, but Plaster motioned him away.
“That was kind of rude,” said Plaster, not meaning to brush off his teammate. “I love Tommy, it’s just in that particular moment the holes I focus on the most out here are 11 and 12 and I want to make sure I get out of those two even.”
That required a 25-foot putt on No. 11 that dropped on the ball’s last rotation and a routine par on the 426-yard 12th, Qualchan’s No.1 handicap hole.
Plaster had opportunities the rest of the way but he missed several 8- to 15-foot birdie attempts. He three-putted from 10 feet to bogey No. 15 – “One of my only mental mistakes,” he said – but bounced back with birdie on the par-5 16th.
Teammate Matt McGann, playing on his home course, fired a 72.
“Matt’s just been so steady, so solid for us,” said Dougherty, whose team won by 71 points under the individual scoring format last year.
Kimmel added a 74 and Will Reeves bounced back from a tough front nine with a 1-under 35 on the back for a 78.
“That 35 was huge,” Dougherty said. “We’re probably trailing if he doesn’t shoot that.”
CV had a rough start on the opening five holes but rebounded with quality play. Brayden Miles and Garrett Packebush shot 76s and Riley Hadley added a 77.
“The goal now is there’s nothing to lose (Wednesday), so come on out and just enjoy it,” Bears coach Steve Rasmussen said.
Mead’s Zane Mularski (74) is tied with Kimmel for 13th.
The Mead girls bunched four scores – Taylor Mularski 83, Cami Culp and Libby Bloom with 85s and Charlotte Bloom with 87 – to stay in the title chase.
“We are excited to only be five back,” coach Keith Ross said. “Taylor came up huge for us in the fourth spot.”
Senior Landon Spencer shot an 81 at Indian Summer in Lacey as Mt. Spokane’s boys (348) sit in sixth place. Lakeside of Seattle (302) is in first place.
Ethan Evans (Mercer Island), Ian Siebers (Bellevue) and Danny Tiscareno (Lakeside) shot 71s to share the top spot.
Bellevue (314) holds the first-round girls lead at Hawks Prairie in Lacey. Central Kitsap’s Brittany Kwon fired a 67 for a four-shot advantage. Mt. Spokane’s Tessa VanWert (88) paced GSL players.
Pullman’s Dane Bednar shares 17th place among boys after shooting 81 at Liberty Lake. Lynden’s Jordan Medcalf and Sequim’s Paul Jacobsen are tied at the top with 73s.
Black Hills’ McKenna Canty and White River’s Brooke Gelinas shot 74s to hold first in the girls tournament at MeadowWood. Cheney’s Katarina Ljubisic (90) is tied for 21st.
Seattle Academy’s Elias Malakoff is the first-round leader after a 69 at Olympia Country Club. Deer Park’s Ethan Schroyer (83) is tied for 15th.
Deer Park’s Amy Selanders is 13th with an 83 at Tumwater Valley. Charles Wright Academy’s Emersyn Walker tops the leaderboard with a 69.
Colfax’s Bennett Gray opened with a 76 (tied fourth) and teammate Augie Allenbach added an 81 (10th) at Tumwater Valley. Davenport’s Kristof Panke shot a 77, four strokes behind leader Blake Kukula of Ilwaco.
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