The rain couldn’t do it.
Nor could hail, wind or a highly-talented Kentridge team.
Such has been the case this year — and last — for the Kentwood boys golf team.
The Conquerors, behind their usual blend of talent and depth, continued to deliver last week, coming from behind to beat Kentridge in a South Puget Sound League North Division match, 83-73, at Fairwood Golf and Country Club.
“We played in rain and hail and wind,” said Kentwood coach Kevin Hagen. “It was not a good day.”
Unless, of course, you were wearing Kentwood’s customary green and black.
Although Kentridge star Sean McMullen carded the day’s top score (35) to earn medalist honors, the Conquerors once again were solid 1 through 6. And because of that, Kentwood managed to secure its second straight division crown, finishing the season at 9-1.
Its only blemish? A 93-92 loss to Tahoma in the season opener on Sept. 9. That’s the only loss the Conquerors have suffered in the last two years, a stretch during which they’ve won 18 of 19 league matches.
“That’s the beauty of consistency,” Hagen said.
While usual standouts Thomas Zavada (38 for 15 points) and Kent Hagen (39 for 14 points) continued to shine against Kentridge, so did the rest of the Kentwood contingent.
All six Conquerors carded between a 38 and a 40 in the victory over the Chargers. That balanced scoring has been critical to Kentwood’s success this season and last.
But the difference against Kentridge came from Aaron Dost, Kentwood’s No. 6 golfer. Dost has played as high as No. 3 for the Conquerors this season, but settled nicely into the No. 6 slot against the Chargers. He found the positioning to his liking as well, carding a 39, good for 14 points.
“He just figured things out,” Kevin Hagen said.
And it came at the perfect moment, too, considering Kentridge had a three-point lead with each team’s top four golfers back in the clubhouse after their respective rounds.
When Riley Kuranishi (40 for 13 points) and Dost strolled off the final green, their scores proved to be the difference in the win — and in securing another crown.
“Our five and six outplayed their five and six,” Hagen said. “When you’re that consistent, it makes for a really good go of things.”
Kentwood will try to continue the pace next Wednesday and Thursday at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton, where the league and district tournament will be played. The top 17 golfers advance to the state tournament, set for May 27-28 at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick.
While the Kentwood boys were busy polishing off their second straight SPSL North crown, the girls team — playing at Meridian Valley Country Club — were putting the finishing touches on their first.
Kentwood’s Rui Li outperformed Kentridge star Lauren Sewell, carding a one-under-par 35 to bag medalist honors, while Sewell had a 41 in a battle between the SPSL North’s top two female players.
Li’s performance paved the way to Kentwood’s 78-56 win, which helped the Conquerors finish the regular season a perfect 10-0.
Like the team’s record, Li also went a perfect 10 for 10 this season, earning medalist honors in every match she played.
“She’s just awesome,” Kentwood coach Cheryl Havener said.
Li’s numbers suggest as much. In 10 matches this season, Li has accounted for 276 of Kentwood’s 870 points. The state veteran junior collected 18 birdies and 60 pars along the way.
“I learned a lot during the summer,” said Li, who won the PNGA Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship in August. “I think I was home just one week over the summer. We played in a lot of tournaments and traveled a lot. I didn’t play particularly well over the summer, but I learned more about my game and what I need to work on and my strengths and weaknesses.”
This season, those weaknesses have been few and far between for Li, who will be among the favorites at the Class 4A state tournament next May 27-28 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
And while Li clearly was the key cog in Kentwood’s golf machine this fall, she certainly has had plenty of help in maintaining the team’s flawless record. Behind Li was sophomore Erika Vossbeck, who accounted for 171 of Kentwood’s points. Vossbeck tallied three birdies and 25 pars along the way. Alyssa Nagai, the team’s No. 3 player, managed two birdies and 11 pars, part of her 128-point total.
“We totally bonded last year and now, with all of us back … grew stronger as a team,” Vossbeck said. “We’re all celebrating.”
And for good reason.
Tahoma golfer C.J. Munko is about as low-key as a guy can come.
Which helps explain Munko’s mellow nature last week after carding potentially the best round of golf in Tahoma High history.
Munko, a right-handed junior, carded an almost too-good-to-be-true, 6-under-par 28 on Oct. 9 at Lake Wilderness Golf Course, leading the Bears past Auburn in an SPSL North match, 97-67.
“Everything just kind of worked out,” said Munko, a state qualifier last spring who earned 24 points for his day’s work at Wilderness. “I was feeling pretty good.”
On a day when teammate Danny Swinford, who shot a 1-under-par 33, was very good, Munko was downright unstoppable. The Tahoma standout collected one eagle, five birdies — yes, five birdies — two pars and one bogey for nine holes.
How good was Munko?
“Hole seven is a par-3 and he stuck his drive three feet from the pin,” Tahoma coach Mike Hanson said. “I thought it might have a chance.”
The 6-under 28 at Lake Wilderness was the top score Hanson, who is in his eighth year as the team’s coach, has ever seen.
“It felt like it was 10 degrees outside. It was an absolutely miserable day for golf. Kids were out there in short-sleeved shirts. It was cold, the wind was blowing … it was wet out. About the time (Munko) was finishing, it had the look of lightning around the corner,” Hanson said. “It was just an insane day.”
• WHAT: South Puget Sound League medalist and state-qualifying tournament.
• WHEN: Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 22-23.
• WHERE: Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton.
• OF NOTE: The first day will be the medalist round, which pits the top six players from every team in the SPSL. The top 40 individuals from the first day return for the state-qualifying portion of the tournament on the second day. The top 17 overall golfers advance to state, which isn’t until next spring.
• LOCAL FAVORITES: For the boys, expect Kentridge’s Sean McMullen, Kentwood’s Kent Hagen and Tahoma’s C.J. Munko to challenge for the individual title. All three have been amazingly consistent this season and qualified for state last spring. On the girls side, Kentwood’s Rui Li and Kentridge’s Lauren Sewell, both juniors, clearly are the ones to watch.
• LOOKING AHEAD: Unlike most fall prep sports, golf is split into two seasons and won’t conclude until the spring after a five-month layoff. The boys play their state tournament on May 27-28 at Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick. The girls play at Sun Willows Golf Course on May 27-28 in Pasco.