They attend rival schools, but Kentridge’s Lauren Sewell and Kentwood’s Rui Li are anything but bitter foes.
Matter of fact, when the two super sophomores tee it up during Tuesday and Wednesday’s Class 4A state golf tournament at Bellingham’s Sudden Valley Golf Course, they’ll be each other’s biggest fan.
“We’ve played in a lot of stuff together, which has made us better friends,” Sewell said. “It’s good to have good friends out there because it makes it less tense.”
“We’re good friends,” said Li, who added that the two actually met through training together with Jeff Coston, who has played on the PGA and Nike Tour and is based out of Semiahmoo in Blaine. “If we weren’t going to rival schools, we’d definitely be even closer.”
That said, it’s hard to separate the two from a golf perspective.
That much was evident last spring, when, as freshmen, Sewell took seventh at the state tournament while Li nabbed 10th. Just two strokes separated them, with Sewell carding a two-day total of 155. Li was at 157.
The area’s top two female golfers continued their friendly rivalry this past fall during the medalist tournament at Gold Mountain in Bremerton, when Li took the South Puget Sound League crown, posting a two-day score of 149.
And, as expected, Sewell wasn’t far behind, finishing in a three-way tie for second with Bethel’s Sadena Parks and Decatur’s Stacy Blunt at 153.
In preparation for the state tournament, the four state-bound golfers teed it up again last Tuesday in the Kentridge Invitational at Fairwood Golf and Country Club. This time, however, Parks bagged top honors with a 70 followed by Sewell (74) while Li tied with Bethel High’s Jackie Brown for third (79).
“It’s just a preview of what might happen (at state),” Sewell said.
Kentridge coach Todd Nicholson believes Sewell’s assessment is right on.
“Li and Sewell are both very solid golfers, with no real weaknesses,” he said. “Each is capable of a top-five finish at state next week. But on any given day in golf … it will be interesting.”
Of course, both Sewell and Li have big plans for next week’s tournament. While Parks, a senior who took third at state last year, and Kamiak sophomore Seo Hee Moon remain the favorites, Sewell and Li anticipate being in the title hunt too.
When that hunt hits its fever pitch – though they’ll undoubtedly be trading words of encouragement – Sewell and Li will put their friendship aside and take aim at the same thing.
“My goal is to win. I am not thinking about last year,” Li said. “I am thinking about now.”
No matter the final result, however, Sewell admits, it just might be somewhat bittersweet.
“It’s kind of tough,” Sewell said. “She’s a good friend and I want her to do well. It’s tough, because at the same time, I want the same for me.”
Forgive Chris Cho if he’s feeling a bit incomplete these days.
Sure, Cho is unquestionably among the best golfers Kentridge High has ever produced.
And, yes, he has a full-ride scholarship to the University of Idaho in hand.
But the Kentridge senior is still in search of the one thing that has eluded him the last three years: a state championship.
“According to the previous three years, getting top-five all three years, it would be nice to win one eventually,” Cho said. “I was planning on winning it junior year.”
Though it didn’t happen, Cho certainly was — as always — impressive, tying for third with a two-day total of 141. That final tally was just four strokes behind champion Kevin Penner of Eastlake.
But after taking second his freshman year and fifth as a sophomore, Cho was anticipating a bit more.
“I was a little disappointed I didn’t play as well as I wanted to play,” he said. “I thought the way the course was laid out, I could get it done.”
Cho, who plays year-round and is part of the American Junior Golf Association, hopes to do just that Tuesday and Wednesday, when he takes his final shot at a title during the Class 4A state tournament at Burlington’s Avalon Golf Links.
“To be honest, it’s not as big as playing in the (Amateur Golf Association) tournaments, But to tell you the truth, state, even though it’s smaller than the rest, it’s still a big tournament,” he said. “It’s the most competitive (classification) in Washington … just playing well makes me expand my name in the state of Washington.
“This tournament is a big deal to me.”
Kentwood’s boys golf team made the most of Tuesday’s Kentridge Invitational, a tune-up for state.
Kentwood blew away the competition, bagging the team title with 70.5 points. Auburn Riverside finished a distant second with 30 points, followed by third-place Kentridge (26).
Nick Varelia led the way for the Conquerors, winning the tournament by carding a 72. Varelia’s teammates, Kent Hagen and Thomas Zavada, tied for third place with Thomas Johnson of Puyallup as each carded a 75.
Kentridge’s Cho, won won medalist honors in the fall and is a state title contender, did not compete in the tournament.
STATE GOLF GLANCE
• WHAT: Boys and girls Class 4A state golf tournament.
• WHEN: Tuesday and Wednesday, May 20-2.
• WHERE: Boys — Avalon Golf Links in Burlington. Girls — Sudden Valley Golf Course in Bellingham.
• WHO: The top 80 male and female prep golfers in the state earned spots in the tournament. The top 40 golfers in each gender advance to the second day of the tournament. The South Puget Sound League is sending the top 18 boys and top 17 girls from the fall’s medalist tournament.
• LOCALS IN ACTION: Boys — Kent Hagen (Kentwood), Thomas Zavada (Kentwood), Andrew Zavada (Kentwood), Nick Varelia (Kentwood), Sean McMullen (Kentridge), Andrew Scott (Kentlake), C.J. Munko (Tahoma). Girls — Rui Li (Kentwood), Lauren Sewell (Kentridge), Tickle Yamanaka (Kentridge), Krystina Zerr (Kentridge), Kelli Wyatt (Kentlake), Jacki Yanamura (Kentlake); Leslie Sampson (Tahoma), Alisa Fairweather (Tahoma).
• FAVORITES: Boys — Chris Cho, Kentridge; Kevin Penner, Eastlake; Reid Martin, Kamiak. Girls — Seo Hee Moon, Kamiak, Sadena Parks, Bethel.