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Five Central Kitsap High School golfers primed for postseason success
Continue to improve, then peak when it counts.
That’s the mentality of the Central Kitsap High School boys golf team as it enters the second half of the regular season, preparing for next month’s Narrows League Championships at Lake Spanaway Golf Course in Tacoma.
“I don’t put a lot of emphasis on winning and losing during the season because it doesn’t matter,” coach Paul Stensen said. “All that matters is how you do at the league match.”
The two-day league tournament determines which golfers qualify for the Class 4A state championships, with the top 12 advancing. Each Narrows team may enter six golfers regardless of their regular-season scores.
So despite the fact the Cougars have three returning state participants and two others Stensen believes are capable of qualifying, the coach is making no postseason guarantees.
“When it comes to the league championships, one bad day and your season is done,” he said.
But Central Kitsap has reason to be optimistic.
Seniors Logan Healy-Tuke and Eric Anderson and sophomore Nick McDonald are playing well and poised for return trips after qualifying for state last season, though Anderson was an alternate because he finished 13th at the league tournament. And sophomores Paul Caswell and Adam Hansen have at times this season posted state-caliber scores.
The Cougars have never sent five golfers to state in 12 seasons under Stensen, so it could be a special year for the team. To get there, however, Stensen believes the players must shoot in the mid-70s both days of the league tournament.
“Our guys are all capable of that,” he said.
Of the Cougars’ top five hitters Healy-Tuke has the most postseason experience. He missed the cut for state as a freshman and sophomore, but broke through last season with a top-12 finish at the league tournament.
Although the captain hopes to return, he has made it a priority this season to enjoy the sport and encourage his teammates to do the same.
“It took me a long time to realize, ‘Hey, everyone is going to have a bad day, you’re going to hit bad shots,’” Healy-Tuke said. “I’m not, and really none of us are, the No. 1 or most talented guy in the state. So it’s important we enjoy ourselves.”
The league tournament will be particularly meaningful for Anderson, who at last year’s event lost in a sudden-death situation to teammates McDonald and Healy-Tuke. The trio finished the second day of competition in a three-way tie for 11th place, but since only 12 players advance to state, they played an overtime hole to determine who would move on.
Anderson hit a wild shot off the tee and couldn’t recover, finishing the hole third. He traveled to state with Healy-Tuke and McDonald as an alternate, playing a few practice rounds on the course.
Now a senior — he won the Tim Higgins Invitational on Thursday — this is his last opportunity to break through.
“Last year was kind of a disappointment,” Anderson said. “I know I have the game to compete at state, but I’m waiting for that day to come.”
The day could soon come for Caswell and Hansen as well.
Caswell finished with a team-best score of 81 and was co-medalist in a victory last week against Shelton High School, and Hansen was a co-medalist with a score of 79 in a win over Wilson High School three days later.
Stensen and the players agree the competition between the seniors and sophomores has made the team better and will put it in position to succeed the next two seasons as well.
“It’s going to be tough to lose these two seniors, but the sophomores are doing really well,” Stensen said. “They are only going to get stronger.”