By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Greens in regulation

News-Register file ##
McMinnville freshman Emma Beyer was a 2014 Class 6A state qualifier.
News-Register file ## McMinnville freshman Emma Beyer was a 2014 Class 6A state qualifier.
News-Register file ##
Kyle Brooker established himself as one of McMinnville’s top golfers in the 2014 season, his first playing for the Grizzlies.
News-Register file ## Kyle Brooker established himself as one of McMinnville’s top golfers in the 2014 season, his first playing for the Grizzlies.
News-Register file ##
McMinnville senior Tanner Autencio qualified individually for the 2013 OSAA Class 6A Boys Golf State Championships.
News-Register file ## McMinnville senior Tanner Autencio qualified individually for the 2013 OSAA Class 6A Boys Golf State Championships.

On March 16, the McMinnville girls golf team entered a nonleague tournament at Tualatin Country Club as a gauge of its readiness for the 2015 season.

It did not go as well as Grizzlies coach Jeremy Vernon had hoped. Four players carded a score of 110 or higher, and no player finished inside the tournament’s top 15.

The travails at the 2015 season’s beginning stand in contrast to the optimism around the program at the conclusion of 2014. McMinnville finished third in the Class 6A Pacific Conference championships last season, with Emma Beyer finishing the two-day tournament eighth overall and qualifying for the Class 6A Girls Golf State Championships in her freshman season.

“We should be right there (this season),” Vernon said. “We return everybody.”

The new set of courses adherent to the Class 6A Greater Valley Conference will require a recalibration of institutional memory, but the fact remains: all McMinnville’s top six golfers return as part of the 11-person team Vernon and assistant coach Dwight McFaddin have assembled this season.

Beyer, now a sophomore, is at the head of the class. She finished in a tie for 37th at the 2014 6A state championships, held at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell, but demonstrated consistency throughout the 2014 season.

“She’s out there playing consistently,” Vernon said. “She spent a lot time on her short game. When she gets within 100 yards, she needs to start dialing in shots more. She’s been two-putting rather than three-putting, which is nice to see.”

Seniors Hazel Findley, Katy Keuhn, Katelyn Obregon and Aubryn Walters and junior Kaela Worden consistently placed in McMinnville’s top six throughout the 2014 season.

The GVC has some standout individuals, most notably South Salem sophomore Ellie Slama (ninth in state), but Vernon believes the Grizzlies can come together in a big way.

“We don’t have as many matches this year, so it’s definitely important that we’re playing well early and often so hopefully we can get a team to state,” Vernon said.

 

Boys golf

McMinnville boys golf started its final season in the Class 6A Pacific Conference with momentum but was waylaid at the 2014 conference championships.

The Grizzlies finished in a disappointing tie for sixth place at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks, though senior Bryce Brooker managed to earn an individual berth to the Class 6A state championships.

Brooker has graduated, but McMinnville returns experience at its upper levels and seldom-seen depth at its lower levels. Grizzlies coach Chris Brooker has 23 golfers on the 2015 squad, giving the Grizzlies substantial competition in junior-varsity and varsity practices.

“There’s a lot of interest in golf this year,” Brooker said. “I think it looks to be a pretty competitive group.”

In Tanner Autencio and Kyle Brooker, McMinnville has a pair of experienced seniors who have performed at high levels on the course.

Autencio qualified individually for the 2013 Class 6A Boys Golf State Championships as a sophomore but was unable to shake the effects of a right wrist injury in 2014 that caused him to withdraw from the Pacific Conference championships after one round. Kyle Brooker, son of Chris and brother of Bryce, consistently placed among the team’s top golfers in his first season in 2014.

“Tanner and Kyle are both on ball restrictions,” Chris Brooker said. “They’re going to get one bucket (of range balls for hitting practice) and the rest of the time either play or work on some other stuff.”

Sophomore Michael Martinoff struggled with inconsistency and back injuries as a freshman, but when healthy he could be among a tournament’s lowest scorers; Brooker also has him under ball restrictions to open the season. Senior Adam Israel remains among the Grizzlies’ top five golfers; sophomores Jacob Simmons and Kyle Dauterman and freshman Clement Anderson are pushing the returners for play in varsity.

In the Class 6A Greater Valley Conference, West Salem and South Salem return young teams that qualified for the 2014 6A state championships, and the West Albany boys finished fourth in Class 5A. The Grizzlies’ objective is clear: get healthy, and adjust to the competition from there.

“I’m anxious to see new places,” Brooker said. “I feel super-optimistic with the numbers and the future.”

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