EVERETT — Kenneth Sheldon won the long-drive contest at the 32nd annual Bill Egbers Golf Tournament at Skagit Valley Golf & Country Club near Everett May 3, but he, coach Dan Whealdon and the rest of the team had a long drive in more ways than one.

Since tee time was 8 a.m. on Friday the team left Ilwaco High School Thursday, but above Seattle and nearing Everett on the I-5 freeway a tire blew on the van. Fortunately no one was hurt and the van was able to pull safely to the side of the road.

Then the fun began as Taylor Schisler’s dad, Richie took Clark Wilson, Ross Kukula, Anthony Yoder (all seniors) and Taylor to Burlington in a full car. Coach Whealdon and Sheldon stayed behind with the van. After an hour of wrestling with a couple of frozen lug nuts, the tow truck driver headed north. The final miles Whealdon and Sheldon rode in a cab. At 1 a.m. the Crown Victoria cab took the pair of hungry Fishermen through a late-night drive through for “dinner.”

Back on the golf course Wilson fired a 32 on the front nine and finished with a 72. Kukula also made the cut with a round of 76. Yoder was two over the cut line of 82 with an 84 and both Sheldon and Schisler finished with scores of 88.

Wilson’s morning round was a mere one over par for the 6,063-yard course. In the afternoon round Wilson shot an 85 to finish with 157 and Kukula carded a 79 for a total of 155. Both finished in the top 15 among more than 100 golfers from all classifications of schools up to the 4A level. Brian Mogg of Skyline was the winner.

At the awards ceremony tournament director Rich DeBlanc said, “Clarkston may have come the furthest, but Ilwaco had the most interesting trip.”

Coach Whealdon explained, “The course was difficult because of the wind and because as the day went on the greens that were already fast dried out and were even faster. Everyone’s scores went up at least four or five strokes.”

In order to be in the team competition at least three golfers needed to qualify for the afternoon round of 18 holes. “Our kids were tired, but they hung in there despite getting only four and a half hours of sleep. I was proud of all of them,” Whealdon concluded.

Sheldon’s drive was a mammoth 278 yards and right down the chalk line. His drive was about a foot from the line so there was almost no penalty as the distance of the player’s best drive minus the distance from the line determined the score for the competition.

The defending state champion Ilwaco boys’ team will practice at their home course in Surfside and at the Astoria Country Club. Between now and the state 1A golf tournament, which is May 21 and 22, the Fishermen team will play a practice round at Spanaway Golf Course to be familiar with the course before the two championship 18-hole rounds.

As for his long drive, Sheldon won a dozen Calloway golf balls. For the Fishermen, they came home safe and sound in the school van, equipped with a brand new back tire.

The difference was that Sheldon’s drive was straight.

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