Wednesday, April 27, 2011/lk
At 3:30 Thursday the Hood River Valley boys golf team filed into the clubhouse at Indian Creek Golf Course to prepare for practice.
Outside, skies which had been bright and sunny moments before suddenly turned dark and the air filled with rain.
"It's really coming down now," one of the golfers said as he looked out the window.
"Of course it is," said coach Matt Kyriax as he shook his head. "It's time for practice."
That about sums up this golf season.
While the HRV boys were getting ready to head out to the course, their female counterparts were out on it, getting soaked and having their umbrellas turned inside out by the wind during the Indian Creek Invitational tournament.
Thankfully, Thursday's storm was relatively brief, and the outside temperature even touched 60 at one point during the tournament. That was an improvement compared to the constant downpour and 40 degree temps they have experienced regularly during lengthy tournament outings so far this year.
While the weather has been slowly improving, so have the Eagles.
"The competition in this league is not as fierce," HRV girls coach Dave Waller said. "We are competitive with all the teams in this league."
All four Columbia River Conference teams were at Thursday's tournament, and the Eagles finished second to Pendleton, three points out of the lead in the Stableford system used for scoring the tournament.
That was a dramatic change from the team's days in the Mount Hood Conference, where St. Mary's and Central Catholic were typically one-two in the team standings and typically filled up nearly all the top 10 spots as well.
In the Stableford system, players get points based on the strokes they take on the whole, starting with five for a birdie and then descending to zero for a quadruple bogey.
Tori Grace led the Eagles with 41 points; Alicia Hay had 33, Korey Cimock 31, Amalia Sletmoe 30 and Malika Reynolds 15.
Grace has been the most consistent player for the Eagles this season and plays at the No. 1 spot. Waller said he was also happy with the improvement his golfers have shown in the 3-5 spots.
"When the rest of the teams in the league get to the three and four spots, lots of them drop off," he said.
While the season feels like it has barely gotten started due to the weather, the teams are just a few weeks away from district and Waller is hoping the weather continues to improve so he knows more about what he has.
"It's been hard to tell so far because of the weather," he said.
Last Friday the team went to Goldendale for a nine-hole match and got its first win of the season. The Eagles shot a 224 as a team with Grace leading the Eagles with a 50 and Hay a 53.
Meanwhile the HRV boys have also been showing steady progress.
The Eagles finished sixth as a team at last week's Pendleton invite and had all five of their top four players shoot under 100.
Nick Guthrie led the Eagles with 85; Justin Aleckson shot 88, Hunter Daly 91 and Torey Schmidt shot a 95.
"They are all playing OK," Kyriax said. "Justin Aleckson is putting up some big numbers."
The boys team has 17 members this season, and with the team playing one-third fewer tournaments and most of those being varsity-only, Kyriax lauded his younger players for sticking with it even though they have not had the chance to play in many matches.
"They've been real troopers," he said.
The Eagles have just two meets remaining until district, and Kyriax is hoping his top group is able to challenge for a spot at state.
Unlike in the Mount Hood Conference, the district meet is the only play that counts toward state qualifying, meaning that if a player has two good days of golf, they could be going to state.
"There is the potential for a couple of guys to step up," Kyriax said.