Blake Kukula

Blake Kukula hit his shot at the slope of a hill at Richland golf course last season.

ILWACO — As Blake Kukula pursues a three-peat state title, Ilwaco’s golf program will try to get him some company at state.

The boys’ team will need one other state competitor to compete for a team 1B/2B title, which they last won in 2016 when an eighth-grade Kukula finished second and Zac Tapio placed 15th.

The girls’ team, meanwhile, is rebuilding after losing its top three golfers from last year. Kukula for the boys’ team and the now-graduated Madison Chabot for the girls were Ilwaco’s only representatives at state last season.

Tenyson Ramsey, a state alternate in 2017, has probably the best chance to join Kukula at Tumwater Valley for State this year. His best rounds have been around 90, with nine-hole scores sometimes in the low-40s.

Brendan Chabot, who just missed the cut at Districts last year, is in Germany on an exchange program and will miss the first weeks of the season, and so will have to catch up on practice time to get back into form. Ethan Knopski and Charlie Short are also back. Ilwaco should have enough varsity players to get team scores at regular-season tournaments.

Faith Richardson, the girls’ number four golfer last year, moves into the number one slot this season. She got her score as low as 54 last year, with a game built around long drives. Maggie Jacobson becomes the number two. Gabby Bell practiced with the team last season as an eighth grader, giving her more experience than anyone on the girls’ team apart from Richardson and Jacobson.

Sunny Kemmer brings a strong athletic track record as she takes up golf for the first time. She was a standout with the soccer team in the fall and third-team All-League basketball player this winter. She slots in as the number four golfer.

Freshmen Violet Voalton, Lily Freeman and Abigale Quayle are taking up golf for the first time this year.

Kukula’s top competitor at State the last two years, Dawson Strobel, now golfs for Northern Idaho. Kukula’s highlights last year included a 68 at Three Rivers in Kelso in May, a three-stroke victory at the Seaside Invitational in April, the Washington Junior Golf Association Tournament of Champions in August, and of course the state 1B/2B tournament championship.

Ilwaco’s girls’ season began Tuesday, March 26 (after press time) in Elma against Montesano and King’s Way Christian. The boys’ first tournament, and the girls’ second, will be Thursday, March 28 at 3:30 p.m. against Life Christian.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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