Golfers to watch

Austin Berg | Sultan (via G. Falls), Sr.

Berg is one of two Granite Falls students who, since the Tigers don’t have a golf team, plays for Sultan. A senior, Berg has been making the trek to Sultan for practice for three years now, and has come a long way in that time, according to Sultan head coach Mike McMahon.

“He’s matured a lot in the three years that we have known him,” McMahon said. “And I think he’s pretty excited about the way he’s playing now.”

Berg and his classmate have bonded with their Sultan teammates.

“They’re great kids,” McMahon said. “That’s what I think makes it a lot easier to be able to do this. They do get along with our kids. They’ve grown a friendship there and they root for each other in the course.”

Berg has had some tough luck in previous postseasons. His sophomore year, Berg did well before being disqualified at the district tournament. Last year he hurt his elbow right before the end of his junior season.

“He’s finally healthy and he’s playing well,” McMahon said.

Halen Davis | Stanwood, Jr.

Davis, who finished 24th in last year’s 4A district tournament, has evoked numerous comments from other coaches. And a lot of them, all about the junior, are similar.

“Coaches keep asking me, ‘He’s not a senior? He’s really not a senior?’” said Stanwood head coach Scott Bates. “They don’t believe it.”

When describing Davis, Bates uses pretty much every word an athlete would want to hear when being discussed.

“It’s always a treat to have somebody as consistent and solid as he’s been,” Bates said. “He’s a well-rounded individual. He has a great sense of humor and treats people respectfully. He’s coachable, hard-working and willing to do what you ask him.”

The junior has played well this year, including a 4-under-par round of 66 at Cedarcrest Golf Course, and is looking to top last year’s finish with perhaps a place in the top 10 at this year’s 3A meet.

“He’s improved since last season and he’s shot some nice, low scores,” Bates said. “I’d like to see him repeat going to state and improve upon his effort from last year. He has the potential and capability to play pretty well.”

Ben Richards | Glacier Peak, Sr.

Richards has gone to state the previous three years and finished tied for 17th at the 3A state championships last season after winning the prestigious Dolan Invitational as a junior. Fellow Grizzlies senior Conner Dennesen and Richards have been in the starting Glacier Peak rotation since their freshman years and have set a good example for the younger golfers.

“I’m just real proud of the way Ben has matured as one of the leaders of the team,” said Glacier Peak head coach Jeff Cornish. “It doesn’t always happen that your most talented player is the one that looks out for the development of your team. I appreciate that more than his score.”

Richards doesn’t plan on golfing in college, so Cornish hopes he just goes out and enjoys the final part of his last high school season.

“This year he’s going to do fine,” Cornish said. “I think his attitude is that state is just such a fun experience. He’s got his priorities straight. He’s there to play well, but to enjoy his last trip there.”

Hannah Lee | Kamiak, So.

Lee, who participated in Day 1 of the state golf championships last year as a freshman, is one of four standout sophomores for the Knights this season. Along with Katherine Choi, Olivia Kim and Simran Handa, Lee has helped lead a young Kamiak team by consistently posting a good score.

“She’s very consistent,” said Kamiak head coach Bud Davis. “She doesn’t hit (the ball) long, but she’s very accurate. Very good at keeping the ball in play. She never gets into trouble.”

Lee burst onto the Kamiak golf scene last year as a freshman, standing out on the first day of tryouts.

“I was looking at her hitting and I said, ‘Whoa. This girl is pretty good. Really good in fact,’” said Davis, who is excited to have Lee and her fellow sophomores around beyond this year’s season.

“They’ve all come along,” Davis continued. “I have four sophomores that are all pretty good players. They’re great kids that really like each other. They get along really well and really just a great crew of kids.”

Laura Gay | Jackson, Sr.

After winning the Wesco 4A tournament last week, the Jackson captain now sets her sights on defending her district title and continuing her upward trend in her fourth appearance at the state golf championships.

Gay qualified for state as freshman, but didn’t make the Day 2 cut. Her sophomore year she qualified for state and made it to the second day and last year, after taking the 4A district crown, she finished in a four-year tie for 20th.

This season Gay has set goals to improve in each meet and Jackson head coach Kevin Mackay thinks she’ll continue that trend in the postseason.

“Last year her goal was to finish in the top 20 and she did,” Mackay said. “This year she wants to do better than that, and I think she will. She sets her goals and she works pretty hard to attain them.”

Gay has earned a scholarship to golf at St. Lawrence University, a Division-III school in Canton, N.Y.

Nina Forsell | Lakewood, Sr.

Last season Forsell had a breakout year, gradually moving up to Lakewood’s No. 1 spot and finishing 35th at the 2A state tournament. This season the senior is the only returning varsity player to a Cougars team that graduated six seniors and she’s picked up right where she left off, recently winning the Cascade Conference tournament.

Forsell is the first player in Lakewood history to accomplish that feat.

“She came out of the gate playing the way she did last year when she made it to state for the first time,” said Lakewood head coach Chris Walster. “I think she’s gone beyond her own expectations the past few weeks.”

Forsell set three school records for low scores this year and is hoping to be the first Lakewood golfer to make multiple trips to state.

“We’ve never had a Lakewood golfer make two state appearances,” Walster said. “Hopefully she can break that bad luck and do well (today) and Tuesday and go for a second time.”

Districts at a glance

Boys

4A Northwest District 1

When: Round 1, today, 1 p.m.; Round 2, Tuesday, 1 p.m.

Where: Legion Memorial Golf Course

3A Northwest District 1

When: Round 1, Tuesday, 10 a.m.; Round 2, Wednesday, 10 a.m.

Where: Snohomish Golf Course

2A Northwest Districts

When: Round 1, Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.; Round 2, Wednesday, 12:30 pm.

Where: Snohomish Golf Course

Girls

4A Northwest District 1

When: Round 1, Tuesday, noon; Round 2, Wednesday, noon

Where: Kayak Point Golf Course

3A Northwest District 1

When: Round 1, Tuesday, 9 a.m.; Round 2, Wed., 9 a.m.

Where: Cedarcrest Golf Course

2A Northwest District 1

When: Round 1, today, 1 p.m.; Round 2, Tuesday, 1 p.m.

Where: Skagit Golf and Country Club

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