The few and the proud: Eagle girls golf hopes for return to state

March 14, 2012

The Hood River Valley girls golf team is coming off a state tournament appearance. The current members would like someone to share the experience with.

The Eagles currently have four players - all of whom return from last year's team. They could use a fifth or a sixth.

At district and state teams use five players and score the four best. For now the Eagle's fearsome foursome is going to try and make it two straight state appearances without any margin for error.

"If we could get a couple more girls it would be really helpful," said Tori Grace, the team's lone senior. The team's other three members - Korey Cimock, Alicia Hay and Gabrielle Whitehead - are all sophomores.

"If they play like they can I think they've got a reasonable chance at getting to state," said HRV coach Dave Waller.

After getting by on raw talent last year, Waller is working on refining the game of some of the younger members this year. That means more time out on the course for practice rounds and more education about the rules of the game and course rules.

Memorizing the Indian Creek rule book should come in handy, for starters. The Eagles will host the league tournament in May, with all of their state chances riding on it. In the Columbia River Conference, no finishes matter other than the league tournament, so the Eagle figure to have a built in advantage with the tournament taking place on their own home course.

"That will help," said Grace. "By the time district rolls around we will have the ins and outs down pretty well."

The state spot came as a bit of a shock to a team which composed largely of freshmen last year. However, after the learning experience that the state tournament provided last year, Waller thinks his team has already shown improvement.

"We were surprised to get second last year," he said of the team's finish at the league tournament. "I think we'll play better this year than last; we just don't know what to expect from the other teams."

On another part of Indian Creek, the Hood River Valley boys team does not know quite what to expect from itself yet. The Eagles lost their lone state qualifier from last year, Hunter Daley, to graduation.

Returning varsity players Torey Schmidt and Justin Aleckson will lead the way for an Eagle team which faced just the reverse problem from the Eagle girls.

Budget cuts forced the elimination of the JV program, and the team has a van, which can seat five team members, for away tournaments.

That means players will essentially be competing for one of five spots in the van on the varsity team. With the competition at the lower levels, and some experience at the top, HRV coach Matt Kyriax likes the Eagles' odds to be represented at state.

"I think we can get at least one guy in," he said.

With the district tournament being the only scoring that matters, the Eagles are playing a reduced schedule, devoting more time to preparing and getting to know each other during practice rounds.

"We'll have plenty of time to practice," Kyriax said. "We've got a good group of guys this year."

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