DUPONT — Ilwaco walloped the rest of the state 1A golf teams by a whopping 99-point margin and Fishermen seniors Ryan Kukula tied for second and Patrick Whealdon tied for fourth Wednesday, May 25 at The Home Course in Dupont. Clark Wilson finished sixth and Ross Kukula came in 10th. Rounding out the Ilwaco team scoring was Anthony Yoder in a tie for 31st.

Ilwaco scored 155 points to Ridgefield’s 56, while Lynden Christian was a distant third with 52 points. Ryan Kukula fired rounds of 73 and 72 for a score of 145, four off the pace of medalist Brett Johnson of Ridgefield, last year’s fourth place 2A golfer. Whealdon came around in 78 and 70 for a 148. Wilson was steady at 74 and 75 for a 149, and fellow sophomore Ross Kukula was 10th with rounds of 79 and 74 for 153.

Yoder scored 85 and 80 for 31st place as he contributed 9.5 points to Ilwaco’s team total. Ryan Kukula scored 42.5 points, Whealdon 37, Wilson 35, and Ross Kukula 31. Ryan Tapio missed the cut by four strokes day one of the tournament, but was named Trico all-league honorable mention as a baseball player. The Ilwaco margin of victory was the greatest in the 10 boys and girls’ tournaments and likely one of the largest in any golf tournament in state history.

“I was more confident and calm this year and felt like I belonged in the state tournament,” Ryan Kukula said. “I was tied for the lead and when I made a 30-foot putt on hole number 12 after salvaging a par on 10 I thought I had a chance to win, but Johnson pulled ahead.”

On hole number 16 Kukula made the shot of a lifetime with a 300-yard drive and a 220-yard approach shot putting him within a foot of the cup on a par five. “I made the putt for an eagle, but on 18 I tried too hard and over-swung,” Kukula explained. “Knowing that even if Patrick and I didn’t score a point our sophomores still had enough points to be state champions again took away the pressure.” 

Whealdon and Ryan Kukula had enough points to win the title by themselves, as well. “It is nice to finish on a high note with back-to-back championships. I was more focused the second day and just took my time,” Whealdon said. “I was eight over after my first eight holes and four under the last 25. The course was in great shape, but it was difficult because of the undulating greens and how fast they were the first day.”

Yoder said, “I was happy to make the cut and contribute points to our team. I didn’t putt as well as I would have liked. The second day I was in the worst of the weather because I teed off in the first group, but when I made par on the 420-yard 14th hole I felt better.”

Ross Kukula, who finished third at state as a freshman, was nursing a pulled muscle in his back and unable to practice. He finished 10th. “My putting was terrible most of the tournament, but having the team win was all that mattered to me. I did birdie on eight, nine, and ten the first day. I hope to get back and defend our championship again next year and pick up a couple of W’s this summer and be in the top 10 at WJGA state.”

Wilson said, “My goal was to be in the top 10 at state, but after playing pretty well the first day I wanted to finish higher. When I chipped out of the sand and made it on the fifth hole I relaxed and felt good out there. I played solid both days and now I want to do it all over again next year.”

Tapio was disappointed he didn’t make the cut, but said, “It was fun to play at state. I have two broken fingers on my left hand and they didn’t bother me that much, but I couldn’t practice before state and that did bother me. I struggled, especially putting, but there is next year and I’m looking forward to having another chance.”

Coach Dan Whealdon said, “Basically I just got out of their way the second day. The guys were going well and took 18 strokes off their scores from the first day. It was a difficult course and a couple of the guys struggled on the front nine, but our kids stepped up, regained their focus, and played their best golf the last 27 holes or so. They really took care of business.”

Brett Johnson of Ridgefield won the tournament with a 141 and Willie Scholten of Lynden Christian tied Ryan Kukula for second by firing a phenomenal 66 the second day. The Fishermen were state champions in 2008, and 2010 and finished second to a stacked team from King’s in 2009. In 2007 they finished fourth at state, winning the first of five straight District IV crowns. “Our kids work hard, they love the game of golf and they love to compete and it showed in this tournament. We are going to miss Ryan and Patrick’s leadership, but we have a good group coming up,” coach Whealdon said.

“Playing golf with this bunch of guys has been a blast. The experience has been invaluable. I will go off to play golf in college, but I’ll always look forward to coming home and playing golf here,” Ryan Kukula concluded the day after the tournament at Surfside, the course his dad, Jon Kukula, owns and lets the Fishermen use for matches and practice.

  

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