Olympia High School senior Riley Killip says he’s going to focus more on the golf course and less on who is chasing him on the final day of the Class 4A state boys golf championships.
Killip grabbed the lead Tuesday at Liberty Lake Golf Course near Spokane, opening with a 4-under-par 66, aided by a back-nine eagle and three more birdies to finish the day.
But he has some big names right behind him.
Joe Highsmith, the top-ranked junior golfer in Washington from Bellarmine Prep, is one stroke behind after shooting a 67. So is Gonzaga Prep’s Jack Plaster.
Two shots off the lead is Bellarmine Prep’s RJ Manke, last year’s state runner-up, who advanced through U.S. Open local qualifying in Gig Harbor two weeks ago.
Manke, a senior, and Highsmith went into a four-hole playoff in last year’s state championships with Richland’s Carl Underwood, who is currently sitting five strokes back and tied for 10th. But Bellarmine coach Steve George said both of his golfers seem calm and collected entering the final day on Wednesday.
“They are so experienced at big tournaments,” George said. “They just seem very confident. Calm and confident.”
And with winds expected tomorrow, George expects that will play to their advantage — expecially with the way Highsmith was striking the ball.
And Manke drove to the green on the 18th hole and left his eagle putt on the edge of the cup.
Not that Killip is worried about his 4A SPSL counterparts.
“I feel pretty comfortable with where I am,” said Killip, a Sonoma State signee. “It’s my last time around, so I’m just trying to have some fun.”
Killip made his move on the par-5 12th hole, reaching the green from 270 yards out with a 3-wood, and sinking a 3-foot putt for eagle.
He bogeyed the next two holes, but birdied Nos. 16, 17 and 18 to finish off his 66 — his best round at the state championships.
“When it comes to an all-around game, he’s got it,” Olympia coach Skip Fabritus said. “He’s got every shot, and his short game is amazing.”
If Killip holds on Wednesday, it would be the best finish of his high school career.
He took eighth last year at Meadow Springs Country Club in Richland, and tied for 15th as a sophomore at Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in Spokane.
Close by at MeadowWood, Olympia’s Claire Moon and Decatur’s Grace Xu are just three shots back in the 4A girls tournament. They both shot a 1-over-par 73 in the opening round and are three strokes back of leader Cassie Kim of Davis.
And seven-time state team champion Bellarmine Prep qualified all eight of its golfers through to the second day in all but solidifying its bid to extend its state record streak to eight consecutive titles. Morgan Bentley and Julia Bordeaux each shot three-over 75 and are tied for sixth.
Yes, eight. Two of them are competing as individuals, including Bentley. So her strokes won’t count for any team points — not that the Lions appear they will need them.
“Our depth on this team, from 1-through-8 it was anybody’s ball game on any given day,” Bellarmine coach Mark Bender said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had this deep of a team.”
The team title appears in the bag for the Lions — entering uncharted title-streak territory in WIAA history.
Not that Bender is saying that.
“I tell my kids that it’s never in the bag,” Bender said. “I just got done telling them, ‘Let’s go play golf and show them what we’re all about. We came as eight and we’re a team of eight and we finish as eight.”
Brittany Kwon, the defending 3A girls champion, is back on top at Canyon Lakes in Richland, after shooting six-under 66, holding a three-stroke lead. Tumwater’s Dylan Christoffer sits one stroke back in the 2A boys race after shooting a first-round 74, Charles Wright’s Gyan Bains is four strokes back in the 1A boys (72), and Annie Wright’s Abby Givens is in second place (82) in the 1A/2B/1B girls championships, nine strokes back of defending champion Kaysa Panke of Davenport.
Staff writer TJ Cotterill contributed to this report
STATE BOYS GOLF – DAY 1 LEADERS
Riley Killip, Olympia – 66
Joe Highsmith, Bellarmine Prep – 67
Jack Plaster, Gonzaga Prep – 67
Devin Kim, Kamiak – 68
RJ Manke, Bellarmine Prep – 68
Cameron McCauley, Olympia – 69
Nathan Cogswell, Kentwood – 70
Nathan Plaster, Gonzaga Prep – 70
Ivan Zhao, Newport of Bellevue – 70
Holden Backes, Eisenhower – 71
Ryan Sheradown, Kennedy Catholic – 71
Carl Underwood, Richland – 71
Victor Wang, Eastlake – 71
Quinton Borseth, Stanwood – 68
Connor Golembeski, Redmond – 68
Austin Esser, Peninsula – 69
McGwire Hanson, Kamiakin – 69
Spencer Tibbits, Fort Vancouver – 69
Devin Andrews, Juanita – 70
Matt Uhrich, Lake Washington – 70
Colin Campbell, Bainbridge – 71
Ryan Feyrer, Capital – 71
Sean Kato, Redmond – 71
Sean Vaovasa, Gig Harbor – 71
Patrick Azavedo, Othello – 73
Chase McIntosh, Liberty of Issaquah – 73
Dylan Christoffer, Tumwater – 74
Aiden Thain, Sammamish – 74
Jonathan Larson, Bellingham – 75
Nate Kutch, Seton Catholic – 68
John Sand, Hoquiam – 70
Nick Baker, Cle Elum-Roslyn – 71
Ryan Maine, Freeman – 71
Gyan Bains, Charles Wright – 72
John Hayes, Bear Creek – 72
Chase Marquette, Cle Elum-Roslyn – 72
Griffen Reggear, Colville – 72
Palmer Guhlke, Davenport – 74
Dawson Strobel, Tekoa-Rosalia – 74
Blake Kukula, Ilwaco – 75
Chance Weitze, Colfax – 75
Tobin Arden, Lopez Island – 77
Devon Cruso, Pomeroy – 77
STATE GIRLS GOLF – DAY 1 LEADERS
Cassie Kim, Davis – 70
Macy Robertson, Richland – 71
Claire Moon, Olympia – 73
Grace Xu, Decatur – 73
Morgan Bentley, Bellarmine Prep – 75
Julie Bordeaux, Bellarmine Prep – 75
Emma Cox, Camas – 75
Kat Hodgson, Mt. Si – 75
Katelann Soth, Kentwood – 76
Taylor Takasugi, Wenatchee – 76
Brittany Kwon, Central Kitsap – 66
Adithi Anand, Redmond – 69
Samantha Hui, Southridge – 74
Emma Johnson, Bethel – 75
Alexa Clark, Kamiakin – 77
Abby Euyang, Lakeside of Seattle – 77
Molly Behrends, Lake Washington – 79
Megan Billeter, Mt. Spokane – 79
Haley Wong, Shorewood – 80
Ella Warbug, Merce Island – 80
Shelby Baum, East Valley of Yakima – 73
Grace Fraizer, Clarkston – 73
Kenedee Peters, Ephrata – 74
Morgan Baum, East Valley of Yakima – 77
Jade Ming, Lynden – 77
Kaysa Panke, Davenport – 73
Abby Givens, Annie Wright – 82
Deana Caruso, Pomeroy – 83
Taylor Enteman, La Center – 83
Alicia Johnson, Wilbur-Creston – 83