McNary golfers Joel Dutcher and Matt Langenwalter finished second and third at the district tournament to qualify for state.
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By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary senior Hannah Elliott saved the best two rounds of golf of her young life for when she needed them the most.

Elliott backed up a personal best 88 in the first round of the GVC Championships at Trysting Tree with an 87 in the second to finish third overall and qualify for her first state tournament.

“It was the one thing that I wanted to do because I haven’t gotten there yet,” said Elliott, who was tied with Anna Schweitzer of West Albany after the first day before beating her by three strokes on the second. “I just played smarter than she did in a couple of shots. We were pretty evenly matched. It just came down to a couple of shots that I just ended up doing better than her.”

Confident from the first day, Elliott played her best nine ever, shooting 41 on the front.

“I knew I could do it. It was just keeping it together on the back nine,” Elliott said. “After the first day I had a lot of confidence going into the second day and I think confidence really helps. You do good on one hole and it kind of pushes you to keep going.”

The rounds were her first two in the 80s. Elliott shot 91 at the district tournament as a sophomore but spent much of the past two seasons struggling to break 100.

“It was a complete 180 from last year,” Elliott said. “I’ve been wanting to be here (80s) for a while and I just couldn’t get here all season until districts. It was the perfect time to get there.”

Elliot will return to Trysting Tree Golf Club on May 14-15 for the state tournament.

“I love Trysting Tree,” Elliott said. “Because it’s a wide open course, even if you hit it a little bit right, it’s easier to hit it back into the fairway and then get it up. I just love playing the course. It’s really nice there and knowing I can shoot low there will be exciting to see how I can do at state.”

Joining Elliott at the state tournament will be McNary teammate Juralee Stover, who shot a 94 on Monday, May 7 at regionals. In a three-way tie for fifth after 18 holes at Tokatee Golf Club, Stover made a 10 foot put for par on the first playoff hole to earn the final state spot.

“I was surprised that I actually made that put because during that whole day I wasn’t putting very good at all,” Stover said. “It will be a good experience to go (to state), especially when I wasn’t expecting it.”

McNary junior Matt Langenwalter and sophomore Joel Dutcher will play in their second 6A boys golf state tournament.

Dutcher shot 148 over two days at Trysting Tree to finish second in the GVC.

His 71 in round one was a personal best.

“I stopped keeping score,” Dutcher said. “I didn’t know my score the whole round until I got to the last hole. I had the most relaxed mindset. Just the entire tournament, I just relaxed and had a good time.”

Dutcher wants to take the same mindset to the state tournament.

“I want to play the same game,” he said. “I want to lose my score. I don’t want to know what I’m shooting. If I could forget my score and not know it on the second day, I would do that.”

Langenwalter also shot a new personal best, 72, in round one and back it up with a 78 to finish third at districts.

“I hit the ball really well the first day,” Langenwalter said. “My whole game was pretty solid and I didn’t really make any big mistakes.”

The boys state tournament is May 14-15 at Emerald Valley.

“I feel good about my game,” Langenwalter said. “My goal is to get in the top 10, which would be a pretty high finish in a tournament like that. I need to have some good rounds to do so but I definitely feel like I can do it. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.”