Shrugging off a sluggish start, Blaine’s sophomore sensation Ryan Wallen came back to fire a 76 and newcomer Michael Andes shot a 77 as the Borderites scored a 21-stroke team victory over six other Northwest conference teams to win the opening match at Skagit Valley Golf and Country Club Thursday, March 17.
“Last year we finished ninth in conference as a team,” Blaine boys golf head coach, Steve Barthlow said in an email. “This year we want to improve to be in the top five in conference. With the start we had at Skagit, I believe it will pay huge dividends in our attempts to meet this season’s goals.”
Wallen, who scintillated the conference last season by finishing second overall at the 2A state tournament, got out to a three over par start after five holes.
“As this was our first conference match, I think that all the golfers had some nerves going for them,” Barthlow said. “Ryan has a great understanding of his swing and after his eight hole, he mentioned to me that he was able to get his swing back to where he wanted it and was feeling much more relaxed.”
Andes, the senior transfer from Ferndale scored seven strokes better than his performance in the Skagit tournament last season.
“Michael last year participated in the state 3A golf tournament,” Barthlow said. “He told me that he struggled a bit with his irons and felt that he left a few strokes out on the course.”
Freshman Devan Boucher finished with a strong 84 as well while no Borderite golfer was higher than 92.
“Devan is a freshman that has been doing a great job at practice,” Barthlow said. “His 84 was a pleasant surprise, though I do anticipate he will continue to get better and play an important part for this team.”
The victory left Blaine in first place early on in the conference, 10 strokes ahead of second place Bellingham.