With the debut of a more team-oriented format, this week’s Class 4A and 3A state golf tournaments will have a different feel than years past.
Under the new setup, the 4A and 3A tournaments each include 16 state-qualifying teams of five golfers apiece, along with at least 32 additional individual qualifiers.
Previously, golfers could only qualify for state individually. That’s still the case for the other classifications, where individual qualification remains the only route to state.
Regardless of whether one qualifies for state individually or as a team, every golfer will have a chance to compete for an individual state title.
The more team-centric structure for 4A and 3A means an expanded field of at least 112 golfers in each tournament, as opposed to 80 in recent years. And since only state-qualifying teams are eligible to win a state team title, it figures to make for more of a true team championship event. A team’s score is calculated by adding the total strokes of its top four finishers.
“It rewards teams,” Everett boys coach Darrell Olson said. “In the past, winning a team state championship with two or three players just didn’t feel like a team had won it.
“If you’ve got depth with your program, the team concept is going to be huge for you,” he added. “I think that most teams down here have probably got solid No. 1 and No. 2 players, maybe even a No. 3. But it’s going to be (those) No. 4 and 5 spots that’s going to tilt the team toward a state championship.”
Here’s a look at two talent-laden local teams with state-title aspirations, along with just a few of the other top local individuals:
The perennial powerhouse Knights are bringing six golfers to the 4A state tournament — five who will be competing for a team title and another who will be competing solely as an individual.
Kamiak is led by senior Alvin Kwak, who beat sophomore teammate Joshua Clogston in a four-hole playoff last week to claim his third consecutive 4A Northwest District crown. The Columbia University commit, who owns three top-10 state finishes, has an average score of 69 this season.
Daniel Kim, a freshman, shoots an average of 71 and finished third in the district tournament. His brother, senior Devin Kim, shoots a 72 average and is making his fourth state appearance.
Clogston also shoots a 72 average and senior Alex Kim — unrelated to the aforementioned Kims — rounds out the Knights’ five-man team with a 75 average. That same five-man group showcased its dominance at districts by taking five of the top eight spots in the individual standings.
Kamiak senior Whistler Pascual, who averages a 78, also qualified for state as an individual.
The Knights, who have earned 10 top-10 state finishes in the past 15 years, figure to contend for their fourth state title in program history.
“From top to bottom, this is the best group of six players Kamiak has ever had,” Knights coach Vic Alinen said. “We’ve had some great groups of fours and fives, but this … (is) the first time in school history all six players made it to the state tournament.”
The Seagulls return to state with four of the five golfers who earned Everett a runner-up team finish in last year’s 3A state tournament.
The Seagulls are led by senior Andrew Martin and sophomore Ronny Kildall, who both have average scores of 74 this season. Martin, a four-time state qualifier who tied for seventh at state last year, finished one stroke ahead of Kildall to win last week’s 3A Northwest District tournament.
Everett junior Austin Duffy and senior Andrew Olson both shoot 77 averages, and senior Connor Bugni rounds out the Seagulls’ deep and experienced state team.
“This is a veteran team,” Olson said. “(These are) not rookies out here, so they’ve been here, done that and played a lot of tournament golf the last couple years. … The kids are excited (and have) a lot of confidence.”
OTHER LOCALS TO WATCH
4A girls: Mariner senior Jazzelle Caparas, who tied for seventh at state last year, is coming off her second consecutive 4A Northwest District tournament title. Perennial powerhouse Kamiak is led by seniors Regina Park and Jane Kim, the latter of whom placed second at state two years ago.
3A boys: Oak Harbor junior Nick Krantz, a three-time state qualifier, placed third in last week’s 3A Northwest District tournament with a two-round 153.
3A girls: Shorewood junior Haley Wong shot a pair of 78s last week to claim her second consecutive 3A Northwest District title. The three-time state qualifier placed 10th at state last year.
2A boys: Archbishop Murphy sophomore Zach Leonen placed ninth at state last year as a freshman.
2A girls: Lakewood freshman Malia Schroeder finished the regular season with an average score of 79.4 to earn Northwest Conference co-most valuable player honors. In her first conference match of the year, she sank a hole-in-one.
1A boys: King’s senior Grayson Giboney, who tied for fifth at state last year, is making his fourth state appearance.