By Cliff Eckman
For The Vashon High School Golf Team
This year’s Vashon Island High School golf season started roughly a month late, but the team was still able to compete rather than all play being canceled, as it had been in 2020 because of the pandemic.
This year’s coach was Paul Wahlen, who was aided by Kim Richards, Neil Jungemann, and Assistant Coach Cliff Eckman. The golf team had more than 20 players in 2020, but there were only seven this year. When the season began, student-athletes were not in class, which affected turnout, but eventually, an energetic bunch came together eager to learn the game.
Austin Ward, Jackson Tracy, Blake Grossman, Chris Folau, Kenzo Madden, Colby Merrill, and Grace Pottinger were the players this year. Pottinger deserves a lot of respect for sticking it out as the only girl on the team this year, and the coaches are hoping that her participation inspires other girls to join next year.
Grossman and Folau were the only two players on the team with adequate tournament experience to compete at the start of the season. Merrill, on the other hand, improved enough throughout practice to be able to compete in some events. The remaining novices acquired excellent experience and will be able to compete next year when the full season begins.
Grossman was named the team’s best player, with Folau, a senior, taking the next top spot. Grossman competed in his first competition of the year at Chambers Bay’s Nisqually League Invitational. On a difficult golf course, he shot a 108. Cascade Christian won the next match between Vashon, Cascade Christian, and Seattle Christian. There, Grossman, a standout, competed in his first league team competition and won the individual competition. Vashon’s second game was played away, and Life Christian won, with Grossman finishing second in individual play.
The team’s next match was at home against Charles Wright, and while they won, Grossman finished second individually. VHS went on to play Annie Wright and won, with Grossman finishing in second place once more. In the final team match, Bellevue Christian defeated VHS, though Grossman won the solo competition. He had a great first season for VHS, winning two firsts and three seconds, which bodes well for next season.
The Nisqually League Tournament, held on Saturday, May 8, was the season’s final event. Grossman placed 9th overall, while Folau placed 20th with a strong performance. The VHS team finished in 5th place, ahead of Bellevue Christian and Annie Wright.
Given that they lacked enough experienced players to field a full team, the coaches consider the season a success and look forward to a more experienced team next year. When school resumes in-person learning next year, they anticipate a substantially greater turnout.
The golf team and Vashon Island High School would like to express their gratitude to the Vashon Golf and Swim Club for their great support of the VHS golf team. The use of a golf course is required of the other teams in the league during their season. During the high school golf season, Vashon Golf Club grants use of the course. Players can utilize the course for free at any time during the season, not only during practice.