By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Tee to Green

The McMinnville boys golf team can power the ball off the tee.

What happens from there is a story yet to be told.

“We were horrible inside of 100 yards last year,” second-year coach Chris Brooker said. “It was appalling. It has been an emphasis this season.”

If the eight members of the Grizzlies can clean up their short game, Brooker believes that they can equal or better a fourth-place finish in the Class 6A Pacific Conference tournament in 2013.

“We’re going to have, I think, a fairly strong varsity group,” Brooker said, “and a very young junior varsity group.”

Junior Tanner Autencio has emerged as the Grizzlies’ top golfer, one year after pleasantly surprising his coach by qualifying for the OSAA Class 6A state championships. Autencio finished in 70th place at the state tournament, held May 13-14, 2013, at Trysting Tree Golf Club in Corvallis, with a 27-over 171.

“Once he sets his mind to it, he does nothing but get better at it,” Brooker said of Autencio. “He’s just super-competitive. He just refuses to lose. He’s put a lot of work in.”

Brooker’s sons Bryce, a senior, and Kyle, a junior, are presently the No. 2 and No. 4 golfers for the Grizzlies. The 2014 season will be Kyle’s first on the roster.

“Bryce is just steady Eddie,” Chris Brooker said. “He’s not going to make a ton of birdies, he’s not going to make a ton of bogeys, but he’s probably going to make a ton of pars.

“Kyle, he’s a guy that will sometimes get a little hot under the collar. That’s turned him off from golf in the past. He’s matured a little bit.”

Senior Adam Israel, a junior varsity player last season, has “come a long ways,” according to Chris Brooker, to seize the No. 3 position on the roster. Freshman Michael Martinoff checks in as the team’s No. 5 player.

“The sky’s the limit for him,” Brooker said of Martinoff. “He can go as far as he wants. He just needs to get stronger.”

The Grizzlies began their season Monday with a tournament at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha. Mac will host its Class 6A Pacific Conference rivals in a tournament on Friday, April 25.


Girls golf

With a freshman at the lead, the McMinnville girls golf team is off to a positive start.

The Grizzlies won a three-team meet with David Douglas and Clackamas at Glendoveer Golf Club in Gresham on March 19. McMinnville scored a combined stroke total of 419, with the Scots posting a combined score of 430 and Clackamas scoring 495.

Among the Grizzlies’ top five scorers were one freshman, one sophomore and three juniors. In total, 13 girls are on the team roster.

“They all have good practice habits and they work at it,” first-year coach Jeremy Vernon said. “They all have really good demeanors. They’re all smart and they’re coachable. A lot of them haven’t played as much so they just need to play as many holes as they can.”

Freshman Emma Beyer was the top individual in the three-team tournament on March 19, with a score of 17-over 88. Beyer has practiced in the past with Hannah Swanson, the Forest Grove senior who is the reigning Class 6A state champion.

“She’s got a very good swing, a great demeanor for the game,” Vernon said of Beyer. “If she hits a bad shot, she can brush it off.”

Junior Katy Keuhn was second among McMinnville golfers with an 18-hole score of 101. Sophomore Kaela Worden (105) and junior Hazel Findley (125) also scored for the Grizzlies.

Junior Auburn Walters participated in the tournament but did not finish her round. She and junior Katelyn Obregon are expected scorers for McMinnville.

The Grizzlies open the Class 6A Pacific Conference season today at noon at Michelbook Country Club in McMinnville.

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