Top dogs ready to defend title

(L-R) Austin Hurt, Jamie Neill, Paul DeBarros and Ricky Ulloa are primed to defend the Spartans’ state golf title on the links this fall. - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
(L-R) Austin Hurt, Jamie Neill, Paul DeBarros and Ricky Ulloa are primed to defend the Spartans’ state golf title on the links this fall.
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

Bainbridge fields a strong foursome as Metro League golf gets under way.

After last year’s success, the Bainbridge boys and girls golf teams shouldn’t see much of a dropoff as they prepare to return to the state tournament in the spring.

The boys went undefeated in Metro and won the conference’s tournament, the District 2 tournament, the Bill Egbers Memorial, and finally the state title as they finished ahead of Bellingham by 19 points.

They lost Hans Olsen to St. Mary’s College in California, but seniors Austin Hurt and Paul DeBarros along with junior Jamie Neill, all state qualifiers, return.

They’ll be joined by senior Ricky Ulloa and juniors Zack Cram and David Botefuhr for a rotation that will be tough to beat in the Metro League.

“We have three steady golfers (in Hurt, DeBarros and Neill). The next five guys are all capable of breaking 40,” head coach Bob Dwyer said. “You figure you have six guys who can all break 80 for 18 holes, you’re very lucky.”

Some of the new talent includes freshman Kyle Hurt, Austin’s younger brother and a golfer who Dwyer thinks will make a few varsity matches.

He also expects sophomores Peter Leslie, the brother of former football star Grant Leslie, Sean Leonard and junior Carl Hurman to fight for the last three spots in the rotation.

Overall, 17 golfers make up the team, a number that Dwyer credits to the island’s junior golf program and the players’ year-round practice regimen.

He expects O’Dea and Lakeside to give Bainbridge competition, but they’re still the top dogs in Metro.

“In our conference, we are the ones that have been the standard to beat in the last few years,” Dwyer said. “We have set the standard.”

On the girls side, head coach Steve Nielsen will have just seven golfers on his team, but three returners have been to State before – senior captain Rachel Frease, junior Katie Saucier and sophomore Melanie Trygg. The trio finished eighth at the state tournament last year.

Junior Marley Horne qualified for State but couldn’t participate due to conflicts with lacrosse.

The three newcomers include sophomore Kaitlin Olsen, the sister of Hans, and freshmen Ryan Nottingham and Annalise Herr.

Saucier, regarded as one of the best golfers in Metro, will look to qualify for state for a third year in a row.

Last year, she won the Metro tournament, placed fourth at the district tournament and finished 13th at the state competition.

Nielsen, a retired teacher and coach at North Kitsap who now works as a paraeducator at Commodore, said Frease, Horne, Saucier and Trygg will be his top foursome.

“We’ll be strong in the league,” he said, noting that Bainbridge finished 7-1 in the conference last year. “I expect them to do very well. I think the returning players have a good chance to go to State.

“They’re a close group. They pull for each other. I feel good sending them out. I think they’ll represent us well.”

As for the boys, Dwyer was candid about his squad’s chances to repeat.

“If we can send six to State, I’d be ecstatic,” he said. “But the realistic goal would be to just get six players to Districts. From there, anywhere from one to five people I’d love to see go.

“(I’d) love to send six people out there, but that’s tough. Lot of good sticks out there. State’s so far away, it’s unreasonable (to think we’ll repeat). We’ll be contending though. That I know.”

The boys open play Sept. 19, hosting Seattle Prep, Eastside Catholic and West Seattle at Wing Point at 3 p.m.

The girls tee off against those same schools a day later, also at Wing Point.

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