CAMAS — The Camas boys golf team really had its eye on the 2020-21 season.
With a lineup that included several solid seniors, the Papermakers thought they could be state contenders.
However, the pandemic wiped out the normal fall season last year. It was replaced by a shortened winter season that did not include a state tournament.
“Last year, it didn’t really feel like a season,” junior Evan Chen said. “It was more like come out and have a good time with the team.”
The pandemic also limited the number of players coach Ed Givens could have out last season. And that is having an impact on this fall’s squad.
“COVID just kicked us,” Givens said. “I brought in one new kid to play with us last winter, and then we lost four good seniors. So we’ve got a lot of new players, but they are playing well. Take Jackson (Knuth) here. He tried out for us twice, didn’t make it. But he came back this year and played really well. And he’s a senior. That doesn’t normally happen.”
Knuth scored a 1-up win over Paxton Heitsch in singles play at Monday’s Titan Cup, a Ryder Cup-style team event that made its return after falling off the COVID schedule last winter.
Knuth’s win proved pivotal as Camas beat Union 5.5 to 4.5 for the championship Monday. Columbia River beat Ridgefield 8.5 to 1.5 to place third in the four-team events.
In the morning alternate shot pairs portion of the events, Camas beat 3.5 to 1.5, and Union beat River 3-2.
Chen, Eli Huntington and Leo Cassell won both morning and afternoon matches for Camas. Will Rushing and Danny Carl won two matches for Union. River’s Alex Snyder and Ryan Snyder and Ridgefield’s Cruz Combs were also double winners.
Camas’ Easton Rheaume birdied No. 8 and No. 9 the halve his match in the final. Chen’s 2-and-1 win over Union’s No. 1 golfer Laredo Maldonado for another key match for the Papermakers.
“Evan and Laredo, that was a good match,” Givens said. “Laredo played a solid round. He kept waiting for Evan to make a mistake, and it didn’t happen. Evan played even golf the whole way through. Laredo made a couple of bogeys, and that was it.”
The Papermakers remain solid at the top with Chen and Huntington.
Huntington is coming off a busy summer of tournament plays, including the Oregon Amateur and Hogan Cup. He posted a personal-best round of 64 at the Klamath Basin Junior at Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls, Ore., helping him finish third in the open 14-18 age division.
He carried that strong summer into the fall campaign. Last week, he posted a par of 4-under-par rounds with the Papermakers.
“I was playing good last week, just having fun really,” Huntington said. “I focused on each shot, and the scores just kind of came together.”
That attention to detail is what separates players like Huntington and Chen, Givens said.
“Eli and Evan, those guys, you don’t coach them,” Givens said. “You just stay back. You can’t really even talk to them. Evan especially is just one of those kids who is just super focused on the course. … They play No. 1 and 2. And whoever they run into, those kids need to be ready, because Eli and Evan come to play. Always straight down the middle, always in play.”
With Huntington and Chen leading the way, the Papermakers can set their sights on another run at state this year.
“We’re just trying to put up low scores and have fun,” Huntington said. “We don’t to take it too seriously that we don’t enjoy it. If we just keep trying to have fun, I think we’ll continue to shoot low scores.”
GOLFERS TO WATCH
Top reported 9-hole rounds this season in relation to par:
Eli Huntington, Camas -4
Grady Millar, Mountain View -4
Allen Kim, Skyview -3
Laredo Maldonado, Union -2
Alex Rigby, Mountain View E
Easton Rheaume, Camas E
Noah Larson, Columbia River E
Alden Fay, Columbia River E
Hewie Nguyen, R.A. Long E
Jack Kendrick, Coliumbia River E
Dane Huddleston, Woodland E
Jack Dalberg, Prairie E
Evan Chen, Camas +1
Spencer Moody, Mountain View +1