Glacier Peak’s Tyler Spalti was one of 10 golfers from Wesco 4A who competed in the boys state tournament last season. All 10 are back this season. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Tyler Spalti was one of 10 golfers from Wesco 4A who competed in the boys state tournament last season. All 10 are back this season. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)

Golf season preview: 5 storylines to watch

State qualifiers return all around the county, and Everett’s boys squad is ‘hungry’ for a state crown.

Here are five storylines to keep an eye on during the high school golf season:

1. The Wesco 4A boys are loaded with returning talent

All 10 state tournament qualifiers from a season ago are back, with Kamiak (five) and Glacier Peak (three) having the most returnees.The Knights bring back Alvin Kwak, Devin Kim, Alex Kim, Joshua Clogston and Whister Pascual. Kwak is the area’s top returner after a fifth-place finish. The Grizzlies return Tyler Spalti, Chase Gardner and Alex Knowlton. Lake Stevens’ Cameron Webb and Mount Vernon’s Kyle Cooley round out Wesco 4A’s returning state participants.

“It’s gonna be super competitive,” Lake Stevens boys coach Cliff McKinlay said. “I mean, Kamiak always seems to be a little above the competition because they have good depth (and) a good junior program — they’re perennial a power. Glacier Peak won last year, though, so they’ll be very competitive as well.”

2. Kamiak girls return an experienced senior pair

The Knights are coming off of a sixth-place finish at the Class 4A state tournament and bring back two golfers with plenty of experience. Senior Jane Kim has a pair of top-20 finishes at state, including a second-place mark in 2017 when Kamiak finished third as a team. Fellow senior Regina Park made it past the Day 1 cut line last season in her second state-tournament appearance.

Other top returners in the league include Mariner senior Jazzelle Caparas, who finished tied for seventh at state, and Lake Stevens senior Sydney Bumstead.

3. Everett boys are ‘hungry’ for a state title

The Seagulls return all five members of a team that finished second at the 3A state tournament and are poised for another strong showing. Four of the five Everett golfers who made the trip to Creek at Qualchan in Spokane made it past the Day 1 cut, and three finished in the top 20.

“There’s a lot of expectations this year,” Everett coach Darrell Olson said. “They set it themselves. I think second in state was a great accomplishment last year but they were hoping for better. So that’s kind of motivated them to be a little more hungry this year.”

Everett’s returning state participants are Austin Duffy, Ronny Kildall, Josef Koznek, Andrew Martin and Andrew Olson. The Seagulls will be tasked with getting past defending state champion Gig Harbor, which graduated only one of its five state qualifiers.

4. Shorewood junior is a player to watch in Wesco 3A South

Shorewood’s Haley Wong leads a handful of returning state competitors between Wesco 3A’s North and South divisions. Wong placed 10th at state as a sophomore in 2018 after a 22nd-place finish as a freshman.

Other 3A golfers to keep an eye on are fellow state-placers Rachel Puetz of Edmonds-Woodway and Natalia Zieroth of Marysville Pilchuck.

5. Lakewood freshman has been on the national stage

Malia Schroeder joins the Cougars’ girls program with a unique experience already under her belt. The Lakewood freshman placed fifth at the 2016 Drive, Chip and Putt National Championship at Augusta Golf Club in Georgia — the site of The Masters golf tournament.

Schroeder and fellow freshman Mandy Harrison are the first competitors in the 20-year history of Lakewood’s program to enter with prior golf experience, coach Chris Walster said.

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