River’s Bartek in tournament of her own at district golf

Union’s Cheng also claims second district title at 4A

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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WOODLAND -- There is Chloe Bartek, and then there is the rest of the field.

The gap is huge.

photoChloe Bartek Columbia River High School

Bartek, a junior from Columbia River, won her second consecutive Class 3A District 4 girls golf championship Tuesday. Or maybe she won it Monday, when she fired an even-par 73 for a 14-shot lead at Lewis River Golf Course.

She struggled Tuesday -- by her standards -- to a 5-over-par 78. Yet her two-day total of 151 was still 23 shots better than runner-up Jamie Stilwell of Prairie. So there was not much drama for the title, but Bartek said she knows how to challenge herself even if she is way out in front of the pack.

“It’s really me against the course at that point,” Bartek said. “I just try to go as low as I can.”

About an hour after Bartek and the 3A tournament ended, the Class 4A district finalists found their way to the clubhouse. And for the second year in a row, Belex Cheng of Union is the champion.

Cheng, a shot down going into the final round, fired an 82 Tuesday -- six shots better than her Monday card -- and ended up winning by 15 strokes with her two-day total of 170.

“I didn’t have the greatest round (Monday). I knew there was room for improvement,” said Cheng, a junior. “And then I played better today.”

She led the Titans to the team title. Union outpointed Skyview 179-176 for the program’s third consecutive district title. Mountain View also claimed a three-peat, taking the 3A district tournament, topping Prairie 187-164. (Interestingly, Union has won the past two 4A titles as well as the 3A title in 2010. Mountain View won the 4A title in 2010 and the past two 3A titles.)

Next for Bartek is the 3A state tournament, May 22-23 in Spokane. Bartek said the goal is to win it. She credits her commitment to the game and work with her swing coach Steve Schadewitz at Westside Golf with the direction her game is headed.

She even impressed her opponents. Stilwell played with Bartek in the final group Tuesday.

“You get to try to keep up with her while still trying to play your game,” Stilwell said. “In a way, she makes you play better. I love playing with Chloe.”

While she was not close to winning, Stillwell said she was thrilled with her second-place finish.

“It was a really big surprise. I can’t believe how far I’ve come,” she said. “I’m just steadily improving.”

Autumn Johnson, a senior from Evergreen, finished second in the 4A tournament. She led after the first round with an 87, then struggled to a 97 Tuesday. That final score did not bring her down, though.

“I’m ecstatic. I wasn’t expecting to make it all this far,” she said. “I was expecting maybe fifth or sixth place.”