Camas golfers open league play with win over Heritage

Sophomore Caleb Shira keeps improving, and has risen from the No. 9 player on the Camas varsity golf team to the No. 2 player.

Camas golfer Caleb Shira swings at a Sept. 14 match against Heritage.

Camas golfers Andrew Kwon and Derek Harker search for a ball plugged in the mud on hole 2, at Camas Meadows, during a Sept. 14 match against Heritage.

After missing one of the first matches of the season due to back pain, the Camas High Papermakers’ No. 1 golfer, Owen Huntington, returned to the tee in the team’s first league match, Thursday, Sept. 13, against Heritage High.

Huntington admits he wasn’t at full strength, but it was more enough to lead the young Camas team to a convincing 164-236 win over Heritage.

“It was a really challenging round for me, because I didn’t want to reinjure my back,” Huntington said.

His round got off to a rocky start with a rare mis-hit off the first tee. But, Huntington kept his composure and managed to keep the damage to a minimum, finishing No. 1 with a bogie.

After the nine-hole round on a wet, muddy course, he ended with a score of 39: three over par. His was easily the lowest score of the day, but Huntington said he still wasn’t proud of his performance.

“I was only swinging at about 75 percent of my normal speed, just playing it safe while my back recovers,” Huntington said.

The young golfer, who finished fifth in the 4A state tournament last season behind four seniors, has battled back pain before, and is now working with a physical therapist to heal from his injuries.

It all started over the summer when Huntington practiced long days at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver, while also keeping a busy tournament schedule.

“My physical therapist says my muscles tightened and started pushing on a nerve in my lower back,” Huntington said. “But, I’ve been able to loosen it up with stretching.”

He says his sore back was feeling better going into the fall season, but a weekend family trip that required a long plane flight, tightened things up and kept him off the course for a few days. Fortunately, it’s not a serious injury. During an interview a few days after the Heritage match, Huntington said he was almost pain-free and back to full strength. Another sophomore player, Caleb Shira, has emerged as the Papermakers’ No. 2 player early in the season, rising from the No. 9 spot last year, when the team had several seniors in the top four positions.

“It’s been pretty great. I played about four rounds a week over the summer, plus lots of time at the range visualizing the exact shots I will face on the course,” Shira said, after finishing the round with a score of 42.

Andrew Kwan also fired a 42 for the Papermakers at the team’s match against Heritage, and Derek Harker had a nice day with a nine-hole score of 41.