What a difference a year made for Camas High School (CHS) junior golfer Owen Huntington, who held off Skyview High School’s (SHS) Allen Kim to win the 4A District 4 boys golf tournament at Tri-Mountain Golf Course in Ridgefield on Oct. 9-10.
One year ago, Huntington tied for first place at the district tournament, with Anthony Tobias of Battle Ground winning in a dramatic playoff on the same course. This year, however, Huntington led throughout, firing a first-day 71 and following up with an even-par 72 to win the tournament by two strokes.
Huntington’s performance led the Papermakers to a team championship, the first district title in school history.
“It feels really good to win, which I really wanted to do last year,” Huntington said. “But it feels even better to have the team win.”
During the second round, Skyview’s Allen Kim got within one stroke after Huntington’s ball landed about five yards off the No. 13 green and rolled into a ditch. Officials were called in to see if Huntington’s ball was in ground-under-repair, which would have allowed Huntington to take a drop.
“The official said they were marking the course when it was raining and must have missed it,” Huntington said.
After much discussion, officials decided they could not change the rules, so Huntington was forced to play a difficult shot and ended up making a bogey.
Even though Huntington and Kim were playing together in the final group, the Papermakers golfer said he was really not focusing on his opponent’s score.
“I try not to focus too much on those things when I’m out on the course,” Huntington said. “I did look to see where I was with Allen after hole No. 13, but that was the only time I looked. I was mostly just focused on course management.”
Freshmen lead CHS to district title
The district tournament was special for the entire CHS team as the Papermakers crushed their drives and their competition, topping second-place SHS by 42 strokes.
CHS received a huge boost from two talented, experienced freshmen. Eli Huntington, Owen’s brother, and Evan Chen have played in the Nos. 2 and 3 positions all season long. The younger Huntington fired a 74 and a 77 at the district tournament, while Chen shot 75 and 79.
Caleb Shira had a 76 and a 79 for the Papermakers, who placed four golfers in the top five.
“Having a two, three and four player that can all shoot in the 70s is huge for our team,” Huntington said.
CHS boys golf coach Ed Givens has been impressed with his young players all season.
“Our freshmen are doing most of the damage for us because they play so much tournament golf over the summers so this tournament atmosphere doesn’t mean that much to them,” he said. “It’s great for controlling nerves when it comes to crunch time.”
Eli Huntington and Chen both started playing golf when they were around 7 years old and have competed against each other for many years in regional junior golf tournaments.
“It’s pretty fun because we are both very competitive,” Chen said.
For the youngest Huntington, playing for a team has been a unique and rewarding experience.
“It’s been a lot of fun playing for the team,” he said. “It’s a bit different because you are not playing for yourself as much.”
The team win means that CHS will take six golfers to a bi-district tournament which will be held at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton in May. Bi-district winners will qualify for the 4A state tournament, which will be hosted at the Liberty Lake Golf Course near Spokane on May 27-28.
Owen Huntington said the Papermakers will be ready for action in the spring. He and his brother plan to compete in several tournaments in Arizona over the winter break to keep improving their skills in their quest for a state title.