LONGVIEW - Peter Gaynor, David Thorne and Christiaan Thorne returned from Longview's Three Rivers Golf Course Saturday with winner indelibly marked on their score cards. The trio of Ilwaco golfers, under the tutelage of Coach Dan Whealdon, have qualified for next spring's 2A State Tournament.
The Fishermen golfers missed winning the District IV title by just two strokes, coming in second to rival Montesano in the two-day, 36-hole event that featured the top 40 players in Southwest Washington. "We placed three of the top six golfers in the District Tournament, while Monte only had one player advance to State, but they had more finishers in the top 20 and won the District Title by a hair," explained Whealdon.
The coach was quick to point out, "I'm sure anyone would trade places with us, even though we just missed winning District. Not many schools will have three golfers going to State in 2A."
Gaynor, a sophomore at Ilwaco, shot back-to-back 78s for a total of 156 and third in District, seven strokes off the lead. "Peter shot really solid rounds of golf. He rose to the occasion," Whealdon praised. Gaynor had two triple bogeys on Saturday, but shot three birdies down the stretch to match his first day total.
Whealdon said of Gaynor, "He has a great disposition for golf. Nothing bothers him and he doesn't get too excited when he makes a good shot or too down when he misses. This showing should really help Peter's confidence."
Last season Christiaan Thorne ran into some trouble the last day of District and went to class A State as an alternate and did not qualify to compete. This year was another, much happier, story as the senior fired rounds of 79 and 80, good for fifth position on the leader board.
David Thorne, who did compete at State last year, perhaps had the most pressure as he very much wanted to earn a repeat trip his senior year. After a Friday round of 82, David came back to conquer Three Rivers in 78 strokes and earn sixth place at District.
"I couldn't be more proud of these three guys. They all played very smart golf and were extremely consistent for all 36 holes. They are competitors," Whealdon said.
Adam Ellsworth, who had a very solid senior season for the Fishermen, shot a 95 on Friday and missed the cut by one stroke. The final hole was his undoing, as the green had a downhill slope away from him and his putt rolled past the pin, according to Whealdon.
The final Ilwaco golfer, Ryan Gray, was off the pace with a 108 score. The junior will return next season, along with Mike Lambert and Derek Yasunaka, to help the Fishermen reload for 2A competition.
The trio of Gaynor and the Thorne brothers will compete in three matches next spring in order to prepare for the 2A State Tournament to be played at Black Rock in Sunnyside during Memorial Day Weekend. "I think we surprised a lot of people with our fine performance. The guys worked hard during the fall and last summer and their efforts have paid off," concluded a smiling Whealdon.