Hood River Valley High School’s Golf teams had historical success at their district tournaments this past Monday and Tuesday. The boys finished in second place with a two-day score of 721 (357 and 364) and became the first HRV team to qualify for the state tournament since 2000. Meanwhile, the girls team placed seventh and had senior Victoria Ervin qualify for the state tournament as an individual by placing second with a two-day score of 187 (94 and 93).

The girls team were helped by two huge day two performances from freshmen Zoe Linder and Elysa Mayner who improved their first day scores of 140 and 144 to 121 and 118, respectively. The 45-stroke swing was crucial for keeping the Eagles in the mix of the 10-team competition. The Bokovoy sisters — senior Jude and sophomore Claire — had two solid days, shooting 144/155 and 124/127, respectively. The standout performance came from Ervin, who’s two-day score punched her ticket to the state tournament, a goal she’d aspired to all season.

“She set a goal this season to become consistent and conquer new challenges in the game,” said coach Korey Cimock. “She played two amazing days of golf while supporting her teammates with her enthusiasm and positive attitude. The confidence of the girls and their technical improvements in the game were clearly expressed as they battled elite varsity competition. They exceeded my expectations and overcame some tough circumstances.”

While the team’s season concluded, Ervin will travel to the Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks on Monday and Tuesday to compete in the girls 5A state tournament as an individual.

On those same days, the boys team will be competing at the boys 5A state tournament held at Trysting Tree Golf Course in Corvallis.

“It’s a little surreal,” said coach Erin Mason. “I remember having my parent-player meeting at the beginning of the season. I told them I wanted to make HRV relevant again in 5A golf and we did that this season.”

That they did. The boys team came out shooting well on the first day, totaling a team score of 357, led by sophomore Dylan Santee’s 83 from the number four slot. Santee had averaged scores in the 90s throughout the entire season.

“Dylan putting up an 83 on the first day in the number four spot was the difference maker and one of the main reasons we qualified,” said Mason.

Santee was joined by solid scores from his teammates, with senior Chad Klaas scoring 87, sophomore Owen Clemett 91 and sophomore Ren Tappert 96. Freshman Forest Lawson, competing in the fifth score (not counted to team total) hit a 111 the first day. The team benefited from playing at their home course of Indian Creek, whose fast greens were troubling for visiting teams that attempted to play aggressive.

“We played smart,” said Mason. “Smart golf is not always fun golf, but that’s what works for us. Sometimes your approach has to be to shoot five on a Par 4; you take a bogey playing smart rather than take a triple-bogey playing aggressive.”

Looking through Santee’s first day illustrates that exact philosophy: On three of four Par 5 holes, Santee took six shots to complete the hole and on the Par 4 holes that he did not par, he completed in five shots. The other Eagles followed suite, with their respective scores per hole differing slightly as the difficulty of the course got the best of them at times. Between the entire 36-hole venture, Hood River exercised their patient play well, taking advantage of the 19-stroke lead they held over The Dalles in third place after the first day.

“Overall the regional was going to be a win-win for us,” said Mason. “After our great first day, I figured either we finish first or second and go as a team, or we get third and I still send a couple of individuals. The competitor in me wanted to go as a team; we all wanted to break that 19-year curse.”

While the Eagles dropped back seven strokes on the second day, they played well and stuck to the game they had perfected all season. Tappert came back after a relatively poor first day to lead the team with an 82, while Klaas, Clemett and Santee hit 92, 93 and 97, respectively. Lawson shot 110 on his second day. The team finished just eight strokes ahead of The Dalles and seven strokes behind Crook County. They are one of eight teams to qualify for the state tournament, though 18 schools will be represented due to individual qualifiers.

“I told the guys that if we go down to state and get eighth, that’s awesome,” said Mason. “We have no pressure. I’m a realist and so are my boys; we aren’t a 290 team like Corvallis or Ridgeview. Just being able to go is huge for them, and we’re young. We’ll be back and we know it.”

The five aforementioned Eagles — Clemett, Klaas, Lawson, Santee and Tappert — are collectively quite young, with only Klaas graduating after this year. The remaining four will return as juniors and sophomores, providing the possibility of return trips over the next two years and attracting golfers to the program through its continued success.

“This kind of success creates excitement in the program,” said Mason. “Golfers who didn’t play start coming out. As for state, I’m just excited we have the opportunity and credit goes to my guys, to Indian Creek Golf Course and to the school for their support. Pretty great first year as a coach.”

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