Lewis cruises to District IV golf title

<I>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Ilwaco Lady Fishermen's golf team from left: Hannah Whitlow, Madeline Dickerson, Brenda Agnitsch, Kayla Wood, Kylie Lewis and coach Jeff Lewis. Not pictured is Marcella Morris.

KELSO - Sophomore Kylie Lewis played "very consistent and smart golf" her coach and father, Jeff Lewis praised as she carded a 36-hole total of 182 in the District IV golf tournament at Three Rivers Golf Course in Kelso Monday and Tuesday. She easily out-distanced Montesano's Katie Lillegard by 14 strokes to win the crown.

Lewis shot an opening round 94 to lead Lilligard and the rest of the field of 24 golfers by eight strokes and then cruised to the district title with the best 18-hole round of the tournament, firing an 88, even though she had a nine on the final hole.

Coach Lewis explained, "Kylie has been on the verge of shooting these kinds of scores for the past couple months and she finally put it all together. She certainly picked the right time for it. I am very proud of her."

In an unusual format, the cut was established 10 strokes higher than the score registered by the fifth-place player in the individual competition after the opening round. That cut eliminated the other five Lady Fishermen golfers and left all six of Montesano girls as the only competitors battling for the other four invitations to the state tournament. Erika Watkinson at 202, Missy Gregorius at 203 and Hilary Gochnour with a 207 also qualified for state and all are from Montesano.

Madeline Dickerson missed the cut of 115 the first day, shooting a 125. Marcella Morris shot a 129 and Kayla Wood toured the course with a 140. Brenda Agnitsch and Hannah Whitlow both retired after nine holes for the Lady Fishermen.

"Most of the team struggled the first day, particularly on the first few holes," Lewis stated. "Montesano played very well. They were clearly the best team in the district this year." Ilwaco finished second as a team and LaCenter and Rochester finished third and fourth in their first seasons of offering girls' golf. Of the 14 teams in District IV at the 1A level, only those four teams have girls' golf.

"Our only senior, Madeline Dickerson, had a good chance to make state going into the tournament, but struggled on the front nine, shooting a 71. She came back with a strong 54 on the back nine. She deserves a lot of credit for hanging in there and not giving up," Lewis related. "Marcella Morris and Kayla Wood could also have qualified for the second day, but they struggled around the greens."

The coach went on to say, "We had a good season overall. Every one of the girls improved during the season. The team had good chemistry and camaraderie. If the new girls work on their games in the off-season, we should be a much stronger team next year."

Lewis concluded, "My hope is that this tournament will serve as a motivator for the team for next season. To compete with Montesano next year, they will have to dramatically improve their short games."

Kylie Lewis returns to the state tournament where she shot an opening round 98 last year and missed the cut by a mere five strokes. She joins Jack Whealdon as a district champion as the Ilwaco sophomore also won the District IV title last fall. Todd Oakes, Tyler Johnson, and a late addition, Tanner Bonawitz will also represent the Fishermen at state. Bonawitz finished in 12th at last fall's district match, missing the cut by two places, but a pair of players from other schools cancelled so the freshman received word he would be competing at state.

The 1A golf boys' and girls' state championships will be decided May 22 and 23 at North Bellingham Golf Course. There will be 80 boys and 40 girls teeing off and the field will be cut in half, plus ties after the first 18 holes on Tuesday. Last season Overlake boys won the tournament and Northwest Christian girls were victorious. Ilwaco's Oakes and Whealdon finished 13th and 15th at the state golf tournament in 2006 as they led the Fishermen to fourth place in the team standings. Jeff Lewis will be coaching his daughter, Kylie, and Jack Whealdon's father, Dan Whealdon, will be coaching his son and the rest of the boys' team.

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