By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Calling it a drought might be an understatement.
While McNary High School has sent plenty of individual golfers on to the state tournament, it’s been quite a while since the boys brought home a a league title. The wait ended Monday, May 5.
At Creekside Golf Course as Celts Brady Sparks, Hayden McCowan, Adam Raschko, Brandyn Wyatt and Sean McAulay defeated West Salem High School by four strokes to take the Central Valley Conference title.
“Like all sports at McNary, the atmosphere is changing and this is part of those changes,” said senior Hayden McCowan, who shot an 80 on the day.
Individual scores were 79 for Sparks, 85 for Raschko, 85 for Wyatt and 96 for McAulay.
Sparks, a sophomore and the team’s lead-off player, said earning the title is just the start of a bright future for the team.
“This wasn’t a fluke, or a one-year thing,” Sparks said. “This is a new standard for the golf team and we should be expecting it every year.”
Sparks may not be wrong. Head Coach Rick Ward and the players alike attribute the success to getting an early start made possible by McNary Golf Club.
“The club designed a package for the students on the team where they could pay $20 and come out any time there was an open tee time,” Ward said. “A lot of teams struggle with getting time on the courses, but we’re incredibly lucky. The staff, the management, and even the club members were doing everything they could for the team. I can’t even count the number of drivers, wedges and irons that were given to our program this year.”
McCowan said the extra time on the course paid off handsomely at the beginning of the season.
“We were kind of shellshocked when we won our first three tournaments of the season. It was the best start we’ve had since I’ve been part of the team,” McCowan said. “We started strong because of the work we did in the fall.”
That isn’t to say there weren’t struggles. After the first three wins, the team hit a rough patch.
“All the other teams were starting to get better at that point and we started to step back down,” Sparks said.
When that happened, the team members knew they could relay on others to step up.
“What we had was a consistency. I was just helping out when someone had a bad round,” said McAulay, the team’s fifth man.
The biggest payoff for that consistency will be taking down the boys golf championship banner in the McNary gym and adding a new date. The last time that was done, the year was 1970.
The team had to re-qualify in a tournament Monday and Tuesday, May 12 and 13, to decide which CVC teams would go to state. In a tight contest, the boys finished fourth with a team score of 685. Thirty-six strokes separated the first and fourth teams.
In girls golf at the district tournament, Lady Celt Cammie Decker finished third individually with an 83, and the Celts took second overall with a score of 395 to league champ South Salem High School’s 375. Individual scores were: Baili Keeton, 95, Allie Kehret, 103, Felicia Elmore, 113 and Megan Paul, 123.