Most golf teams don’t have lofty expectations after graduating their top two players.
The West Albany High boys won the state title last year, but Conner Kumpula and Chad Sherwood are both gone, along with Mack Raschko.
Kumpula was a two-time state champion.
That’s not going to stop the current Bulldogs team from going into today’s 5A state tournament at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks with designs on a repeat.
“We feel it’s realistic to try and win a championship for a second year in a row,” WA coach Matt Boase said.
“We wouldn’t want to go there and say our goal is anything less.”
Boase said the Bulldogs did not define team goals at the start of the season.
They had Chace and Jaxson Daskalos back, but were unsure about how the newcomers would fare.
“We were just trying to figure out how we would mesh as a team,” Boase said. “As the season has gone on these guys have played so well.”
The Daskalos brothers have played at a consistently high level, but the Bulldogs have gotten a big boost from freshman Richie Mikesell, who has been shooting under 80 on a regular basis.
“He’s been really key for us in getting through losing those other guys,” Boase said. “You don’t find a lot of freshmen that can step in a play like that.”
Junior Harrison Edwards worked his way into the varsity lineup and Nathan Wichert had his first two sub-80 rounds of the season in the Mid-Willamette Conference district tournament to help the Bulldogs to the team title.
“We’ll go and play as well as we can and see if our best is good enough to get that second championship in a row,” Boase said.
Joining the Bulldogs at the state meet will be Crescent Valley.
CV sophomore Kevin Geniza said it’s the first time in six years that the Raiders have qualified for state as a team.
Geniza said he talked a few friends into going out on the golf course during the summer and they wound up joining the team.
“It’s pretty nice to see that CV’s going in the right direction in our golf program,” Geniza said.
Geniza was the medalist in the MWC tournament with a 143 and Chace Daskalos was second with a 147.
Geniza said he struggled a little at districts.
He was also bothered by a blister that developed from yard work.
“I woke up the next day and my wrist was sore and my right hand had a callus and I ripped open a blister when tried a lefty shot,” Geniza said.
“Everything’s fine. It was just a minor thing.”
Geniza still put up a strong score and will be among the favorites at the state meet.
He said he’s feeling comfortable on the golf course.
“My strategy is to get off to a good start and minimize my mistakes,” Geniza said. “If I do that, I can finish top three in state as an individual.”
Josh Goins of Lebanon shot a 149 for third at districts, good enough to qualify him for state as an individual.
Goins is the first Lebanon boys golfer to qualify for state since Don Mayville in 2009.
The Corvallis girls ran away from the pack to take the Mid-Willamette Conference title by 42 strokes over second-place West Albany.
Both teams will compete in the 5A state tournament at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell today and Tuesday.
Halle Creswick of CHS won medalist honors and Crescent Valley’s Adrienne Johnson was second.
Johnson will compete as an individual.
The Bulldogs have been consistent state qualifiers, but have a young team this season.
Three of the players will be making their first trip to state.
“Being there early on in their career, I think it gives them confidence that they can compete at any level of golf that they find themselves on,” Boase said.