Lake Oswego's boys golf team got a much-needed shot in the arm Tuesday in the 6A/5A State Preview tournament at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis.
The Lakers, Three Rivers League champions last year, have come up short in all four league tournaments this season. But facing the best teams in the state Tuesday, they rose to the top.
Lake Oswego shot a 3-under 281 to beat Three Rivers rival Tigard (287), Summit (288), Jesuit (293), Grants Pass (293), Beaverton (294) and Sunset (295) in the 32-team tournament.
“It was good to see them play the way I know they can play,” Lake Oswego coach Adam Ruben said. “I'm glad those kids turned it around. They seemed a lot happier than they have been all year.”
Lakers sophomore Adam Wrenn won the tournament with a 5-under 66, finishing ahead of Jesuit senior Miles Eastman (68), Tigard junior Douglas Bailey (69), Lake Oswego senior Simon Grey (70) and Beaverton senior Colin Fowler (70).
Besides Wrenn and Grey, the Lakers also got solid play from senior Gavin Redpath (72) and sophomore Adam Blackmore (73). The performance came one day after the Lakers shot a lackluster 320 to finish third in a Three Rivers tournament at Oregon Golf Club.
“They've been struggling,” Ruben said. “It was good to see them move forward and figure it out. We reassessed our goals Monday after our round. We sat down and we were like, 'Hey, we've got four more weeks left, what can we do to make those four weeks worth our while and turn this season around?' So it was cool to see that they kind of took that to heart.”
Wrenn opened his season-low round by going birdie-eagle-birdie on the back nine. On the 335-yard, par-four No. 11, he holed out from about 60 yards, one-hopping the ball into the cup.
“He just seemed a lot more confident with all his irons and his putter,” Ruben said. “You definitely can tell since Monday, he refocused and played the golf that I know he can play. It was kind of a matter of time for him, based on what I've seen.”
In four Three Rivers tournament, Lake Oswego has finished second three times and third once. Tigard has won all the league tournaments, but the Lakers were able to get the best of the Tigers on Tuesday.
“I'm like, 'Guys, what's going on, we can beat them when it doesn't matter,'” Ruben said. “I didn't really follow them much, and I think that might be the key going forward, just get out of their way, let them do their thing.”
Lake Oswego won the last State Preview in 2019, but went on to place fifth in the state tournament, 52 strokes behind first-place Jesuit. Last year, the Lakers tied Jesuit for first place in a 28-team, season-ending tournament at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City.
Ruben – who was a senior on Lake Oswego's state title team in 2012, the start of a 6A three-peat, before a career at the University of Denver – said the team's goals will “definitely shift” after Tuesday's performance on the state course at Trysting Tree.
“We have a pretty talented group,” he said. “Once they noticed that, and focused, doing what they know they can do, they can win.”
Seven players tied for seventh place at 71 on Tuesday: Beaverton senior Colby Wissmiller, Corvallis senior Cole Rueck, Grants Pass sophomore Messiah Gilbert, Sunset junior Kamal Singh, Tigard senior Connor Henderson and Summit seniors Sam Renner and Lucas Hughes.
Aardvarks set pace
Small-school powerhouse Oregon Episcopal picked up another impressive win Wednesday when it captured the state preview tournament for 4A and 3A/2A/1A teams at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
The Aardvarks shot a 4-over 292, led by sophomore Alex Tseng, who finished with a 4-under 68. Senior Ethan Tseng (70), sophomore Benjamin Tieu (76) and junior Mathew Chan (78) were the team's other scorers.
Oregon Episcopal easily defeated runner-up Banks (323), Marist Catholic (326) and Valley Catholic (329), three 4A teams. Banks senior Aaron Brown (67) was the medalist and the Tseng brothers placed second and third.
Oregon Episcopal has won all five of its tournaments this season. Coach Missy Smith, who started the program in 2010 and led the Aardvarks to the 3A/2A/1A title in 2019, said it is the best team in school history.
“The fun thing is every time they go out, they expect to beat what they did last time,” Smith said. “I just love the way they attack it, with high expectations. They're holding each other to a really high standard.”
The Aardvarks won the Bandon Stroke Play Invitational on the Old Macdonald course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort on April 11. They shot 318 – led by senior Henry Ehrlich (77) and Ethan Tseng (78) – to win by eight strokes over runner-up St. Mary's of Medford, a top 3A/2A/1A contender.
Last week, Ethan Tseng fired an 11-under 62 and the team shot an 8-under 284 to win a Special District 1 tournament at Glendoveer Golf Course.
If not for the COVID crisis, Oregon Episcopal could be working on a four-peat.
“We had the same team back two years in a row, but we didn't get to have state, which was really sad,” Smith said. “But we're hoping to contend this year, for sure.”
Ethan Tseng, who has signed with Northwestern, played for Jesuit's 6A title team as a freshman in 2019, finishing third in the state tournament. But he transferred back to Oregon Episcopal, where he previously attended, as a sophomore.
Smith said the players have a strong bond.
“They set up their own rounds all over the place, and have chipping contests,” Smith said. “They just really love spending time together, which was one of the things that really brought Ethan back to us.”
The Aardvarks are taking a road trip to practice on Central Oregon courses from Friday through Sunday.