Ross Kukula's 68 is tops as Kelso, Fishermen crowned champs

Ilwaco's Ross Kukula (left) was medalist with a four-under-par 68 at Kelso Saturday and Ryan Kukula finsihed tied for second with a 72. They will join Patrick Whealdon, Anthony Yoder, and Clark Wilson and althernate Ryan Tapio at the state 1A tournament in Richland May 25 and 26.

KELSO - "Ross shot lights out and really cleaned house," Coach Dan Whealdon said of Ilwaco freshman as he led the Fishermen to the championship of the Kelso Invitational golf tournament there Saturday with a medalist score of 68. "He was so steady and made very few mistakes."

Ross Kukula fired rounds of 34 and 34 for an 18-hole score of four under par 68 in winning the event that featured a dozen schools, all with bigger enrollments than Ilwaco up to the 4A level and several other golfers who are tuning up for the state tournaments coming May 25 and 26. Ross had five birdies, 12 pars, and one bogey on the day.

Ryan Kukula, junior brother of Ross, tied for second with a 72 as he fired 35 and 37 on the front and back nine's. Patrick Whealdon, also a junior, rounded out Ilwaco's team score with a 76, which tied him for fifth place overall as he shot 36 and 70. Coach Whealdon said, "Ryan was solid throughout and did very well on the front nine. Patrick struggled a bit on the back nine, but they both will be fine when the state tournament rolls around next week."

Anthony Yoder, another freshman, shot an excellent score of 77 with rounds of 39 and 38 to tie for seventh. "Anthony has really showed improvement and he shot a very solid round," Whealdon said. "We will need good scores from him and Clark Wilson to have to opportunity to finish on top at state."

Wilson, yet another freshman, shot an excellent 82 with rounds of 44 and 38. "Clark played tremendous golf on the back nine," Whealdon praised. Alternate to golf state Ryan Tapio, who played baseball this spring, fired a 93. "Tap struck the ball well from tee to green, but his putting let him down a bit. Jessica did the same thing."

Jessica Ziemer, who qualified for the 1A girls' state golf tournament last week, fired a credible 18-hole score of 102. The girls' winner shot an 84 at Kelso Three Rivers course. The Fishermen boys' team won with a score of 216 followed by Tumwater with 234 and Washougal 235.

Whealdon concluded, "It was a fun day. We set ourselves up well to have the opportunity to do something special in Richland at state. We will practice at Astoria Country Club next week. That course requires us to use more clubs and the greens are faster as they will no doubt be fast in Richland. We will work to take care of our game and we'll get ready as well as we can to take care of King's and other top opponents at state."

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