Rivalries disappeared on this sunny day. These golfers were having too much fun.
“Districts and state is where it gets serious. That’s when you’re putting more pressure on yourself than you should,” said Union High School’s Taylor Hartley. “This event is so fun, which is the way it should be. It didn’t matter if Union and Camas were in the same group, or Battle Ground and Prairie. We all enjoyed each other’s company.”
The Chieftain Invitational brought more than 70 golfers from 11 different high schools in Southwest Washington to the Lewis River course Thursday, in Woodland.
Hartley won the tournament with a score of 74. She shot 1-under par on the front nine and the back nine. Camas golfers Elise Filuk, Connie Wang and Hailey Oster secured second, third and fourth place to help the Papermakers beat the Titans for the championship trophy by 11 strokes.
“I’ve played many sports, pretty much everything under the sun, but I’ve never had a better team than this one,” Filuk said. “We’ve bonded so much on the course, and at team dinners afterwards. Every day, we push each other to get better.”
Filuk finished with a round of 78. She also shot 1-under par on the front nine, before tweaking her knee on the back nine. Despite the nagging pain, Filuk jumped for joy after sinking a long birdie putt on the final hole.
Wang and Oster both shot an 84, but Wang bettered her teammate on the tiebreaking hole for third place. Rio Smith snagged 10th place for the Papermakers with an 89. Maddie Miller followed in 11th place with a 90. Skyla Stifter took 16th place with a 94. Erin Marrinan notched 18th place with a 95.
Smith won the longest drive challenge with a 274-yard tee shot on the 12th hole. Not bad for a golfer who has been playing high school softball the past two springs.
“It felt great to be able to just let loose and hit the ball hard,” Smith said. “Go from the slapper in softball to the big hitter in golf.”
Back when she was a freshman, Smith missed the state golf tournament by one stroke. She hasn’t forgotten about that. Her goal is to go to state for the third spring in a row, just in a different sport this time.
“I’ve been around golf since I was little,” Smith said. “You’re always out on different courses playing with different people. It’s a sport you can enjoy your whole life. No matter where you go, there’s always a golf course nearby.”
Camas, Union, Mountain View and Hockinson competed in the Titan Cup Monday, at the Tri-Mountain golf course in Ridgefield. The golfers from each school paired up against each other in twos and alternated their shots on each hole.
Camas and Union must complete their suspended head-to-head match Monday, April 27, at Camas Meadows. The Titans had the lead after the first few holes March 31, before a hailstorm made the course unplayable.
Camas head coach Bob Foster said the match will resume from where the players left off. Camas set a new school record with a team round of 157 strokes. Union bettered that with its own new school record round of 151.
Golfers from different schools in Southwest Washington will pair up for the Prairie Invitational Wednesday, April 29, at The Cedars on Salmon Creek course.
Camas wraps up league play with home matches against Heritage and Skyview. Then, it’s back to the Lewis River golf course for the district tournament May 18 and 19.
After winning the Chieftain Invitational, Filuk hopes her teammates bring the same carefree attitude with a little bit more confidence. And if the weather is sunny again, it’s going to be a fun two days of golf.
“This shows us how competitive Camas can actually be. Districts and state isn’t so scary any more,” Filuk said. “Winning isn’t everything, but it sure helps build our confidence. Hopefully, these friendships last forever as well as our love for this game.”