Rain or shine, a local tradition continues Friday at 3 p.m. at Legion Golf Course.
The aptly-named Mud Match, a golfing competition that pits crosstown rivals Everett and Cascade high schools against each other on the links, is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Most of the golfers, it appears, expect rain.
“As the name implies it’s in mid-March and usually pretty wet. And soggy,” Cascade High golf coach JD McDonald said. “? It’s really just kind of a jamboree for us. It’s early in the season. Normally we don’t have any matches before this. It’s kind of an icebreaker for the guys to get out and be in the environment and get their feet wet.”
The jamboree-like event is unique because every golfer, both on varsity and junior varsity, gets to play. It gives them all a taste of early season competition.
“Every kid plays, that’s the beauty of it,” said Darrell Olson, Everett High’s golf coach. “Your No. 1 (golfer) to your No. 12.”
The event was started in 1984 by legendary Everett High golf coach Joe Richer. John Herber, a senior captain for Everett in the inaugural Mud Match, said Richer always was trying to get his kids a chance to play in a competitive atmosphere. He invited then-Cascade High head coach Jack Krause and his Bruins over for round of golf and a tradition was born.
“It all comes down to Joe Richer. Joe Richer was such an amazing guy. He always was such an ambassador of the sport,” Herber said. “? He said, ‘Hey why don’t you guys come over and we’ll play.’ And in golf it’s the top six guys. Joe had this idea that we bring Cascade over for a preseason match and all 12 guys play.
“He had this ability. He loved to compete. Any time he could put you in a competitive position he would. We all knew each other. We all hung out with each other. It was just an opportunity for us all to get in the game and play a little bit and have some fun.”
Herber also explained the origin of the event’s name. Unsurprisingly, a golfing event held in the Pacific Northwest in mid-March tended to bring some inclement weather with it.
“During those years if you hit a ball in the fairway, there was no guarantee it would be there when you got there,” he said. “I don’t think you knew someone, before the remodel, who didn’t have a shoe sucked off walking down the fairway. That was the Mud Match!”
Regardless of the weather, the Mud Match has historically been a bit one-sided. Cascade won the first 11 matches and leads the overall standings 22-7.
“Cascade has pretty much dominated it,” said Olson, who is in his 15th year coaching the Seagulls. “They have won it 20 times. They have pretty much owned it.”
“Cascade usually wins. Obviously, superior talent, I guess,” McDonald said through laughs. “No it’s just a fun format. Fortunately, we usually come out on the winning side.”
When told the overall record, Herber was surprised his alma mater was so far behind in the standings.
“I’m certainly not upset that we lost a whole bunch. I was just surprised that it was so lopsided,” Herber said. “Which tells me, ‘Wow. Cascade’s really got a great program.’”
The event is scored head-to-head, with the winner of each matchup earning a point for his team. The Seagulls won for just the seventh time last year by a score of 9-4, bringing the old wooden trophy back to Everett High School.
“It was a tough defeat,” McDonald said.
There are many memories from the event’s 30-year history, but one in particular stands out to Herber.
“In the first Mud Match, I believe one of the Cascade players got dive-bombed by a seagull (the bird, not an Everett golfer) and I remember specifically because he was wearing a nice, black shirt and, yeah he wasn’t happy about that,” Herber recalled.
The Bruins went on to beat the Seagulls 22.5-15.5 in the inaugural Mud Match.
Everett is looking to win back-to-back Mud Matches for just the third time in the event’s history. The Seagulls previously did it in 1997-98 and 2004-05. The victory last year was even sweeter for Olson because his son, Chris — now a senior captain for the Cascade team — was the medalist for the Bruins. Each team’s best scorer gets a medalist trophy.
“Last year, I had the best of both worlds,” Olson said. “My son was the match medalist and we won the Mud Match. It was a great night at the dinner table. That’s my best scenario. That’s a win-win.”
Chris Olson and McDonald are looking to get back on top this year.
“This is the 30th year of the Mud Match. Cascade has won it the majority of the time,” Chris Olson said. “We need to get that trophy back for Cascade.”
This year McDonald cryptically said, “We’ve got a secret weapon.” He didn’t want to elaborate, but said he envisions one of his golfers stepping up.
At least, he hopes he does.
“Hopefully we win,” McDonald said, “because I hate losing to Darrell.”