TUMWATER — Blake Kukula ran away with the District IV boys golf championship, while Gabby Bell and Faith Richardson both reached state out of girls’ districts, at the Tumwater Valley Golf Club Monday and Tuesday, May 13-14. Tenyson Ramsey lost a sudden-death playoff to Life Christian’s Dillion Slattery for the ninth and final state spot out of district, but will go to state as an alternate.

Kukula won by a staggering 29 strokes over Tyler St. Onge, who was within seven after day one before faltering on Tuesday. Kukula shot three under par Monday for 69 and followed with a 70 on Tuesday.

Bell became the second Ilwaco freshman girl to reach state, following Aslyn Fisher (class of 2017). Bell took seventh in a field consisting mostly of 1A competition. She shot 103 on Monday and 100 on Tuesday. Richardson shot 100-104 to tie for eighth and make state for the first time. The top 10 out of the girls’ tournament advanced.

Coming into districts, Bell’s career low nine-hole score was 52.

“The first day [Monday] I thought of it as my last 18 holes of the year. I just had a lot of fun.” But she made the cut by nine strokes. “The next day there was more pressure.”

Bell cited a birdie on hole seven as a highlight. “I hit a good drive, a three-wood to the hole, and one-putted for birdie,” she said. Another big shot came on the back nine. “I was at the edge of the woods, above a tree, and I needed to get out. I took a five-iron, punched it out and landed on the green.”

Bell made the cutoff for state by a solid six strokes. She solidified her position Tuesday on hole 18, which coach Bob Enos described as a historic trouble spot for Ilwaco at Tumwater due to a tight corner. Bell made a six on the hole to finish a stroke ahead of the three-way tie for eighth that included Richardson.

“I didn’t know I made it until after I sat at the scorer’s table. I double-checked my score and told Blake, and he said ‘You’re in.’ I just couldn’t believe it.”

Richardson was coming out of a mid-season slump in the week before districts but remained frustrated with her play.

“I had my highest scores ever this year, and then in recent weeks I was starting to do a little better but still not good,” she said. “But at districts, I just had this idea that it could be my last match and I needed to make the best of it.”

Richardson noted a long chip shot on the front nine in day two as one of her highlights from the tournament.

“I was up in the grass seven to 10 yards from the green and I chipped it in for a birdie,” she said. “It was the first hole of the day that Bob (Enos) was behind me watching, and it really got me going.”

For the boys, Kukula’s fourth straight district title was a coronation. The big question was whether Ramsey would join him at state. Ramsey was tied for seventh with Slattery after a 91 on Monday, but both shot 96 on Tuesday and were passed by Life Christian’s Ben Comfort and Kalama’s Todd Tabor.

That forced a playoff on hole one with the ninth and final state berth at stake. Slattery hit his tee shot way right to the opposite fairway, while Ramsey was in solid position after his drive. But Ramsey shanked his second shot, and Slattery worked his way back toward the hole. Slattery got onto the green with his fifth shot, then nailed a 30-foot putt for double-bogey. Ramsey missed an 8-10 foot double-bogey putt, settling for a triple and a heart-breaking loss.

Ilwaco’s Brendan Chabot was 13th after shooting a 97 on Monday but nearly forced a three-way tie for ninth. A back-nine 42 gave him a second-day score of 91, putting him just a stroke behind Ramsey and Slattery at tournament’s end.

Maggie Jacobson shot 223 over two days to take 17th. Sunny Kemmer missed the cut with a first-day 115. Ethan Knopski and Charlie Short both missed the boys’ cut with scores of 101.

The state tournament is Tuesday and Wednesday, May 21-22, also at Tumwater Valley.

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

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