Mercer Island golf beats state champions

By Matt Phelps

What is considered a good start in high school sports? How about defeating the defending state champions to begin the season.

That is exactly what the Mercer Island High School boys golf team did with a 180-186 stroke victory over Bainbridge Island last Tuesday, Sept. 6, at the Fairwood golf course in Renton.

``We had nine out of 10 golfers score 39 or better on our home course and that is really good for Fairwood,'' said Mercer Island boys golf head coach Gary Adrian.

Even the Bainbridge Island coach was impressed.

``He said he really didn't expect to lose,'' said Adrian. ``They have their entire team back.''

One of the more amazing performances at the meet was Paul Mitzel's score of 35 strokes. Adrian said that the sophomore could have shot even lower if not for a double bogey and a bogey on the final hole.

``Paul is getting to the point where he has no fear,'' said Adrian. ``He is just playing.''

``It was a good experience last year I really got a chance to see how things work,'' said Mitzel, who started on varsity last season as a freshman. ``Shawn (Tonkin) has really taught me a lot about how to deal with the pressure.''

Tonkin had a pretty good day against the Spartans as well, shooting a 36.

Senior David Kelley shot a 35 to pace Mercer Island.

The good scores were not just confined to three players against Bainbridge. The day began well for senior Ian Code as he over shot the first green on his approach. The senior hit a lofting chip shot to within five feet of the hole to save par. The chip propelled Code to a one-over par 36.

Islanders Daniel Kern, Jason Tolkin and Brian Kitamaura held their ground and each shot a 37 for the course. The three scores gave Mercer Island a big advantage in the middle of the pack.

Islander Peter Mulally shot a 38 on the day, while Brian Naden shot a 39. Scott Carfi, who fought hard to make varsity and qualified on the final day of tryouts shot a 44 to round out the Mercer Island scores against Bainbridge.

The win against the defending state champions wasn't the only big victory of the week. The Islanders pulled out a big win against long time nemesis Skyline High School. The former 3A KingCo rival held a three year winning streak against the Islanders until Wednesday. Mercer Island's score of 199 was good enough to top both Skyline (207) and Newport (212).

``The amazing thing was that our kids could have played better,'' said Adrian. ``We had never played the back side of the Plateau (golf course).''

The Plateau has been a place of horrors for Mercer Island during the past three seasons. Adrian said that Tonkin was most gratified to beat Skyline during his senior year.

Tonkin had the best scores for the Islanders on the day with 39 strokes. Ian Code and Jason Tolkin both shot 39, while Peter Mulally and Daniel Kern swung 41 strokes on the day.

Mitzel hit the sophomore jinx as he, Naden and David Kelley shot 43.

The Islanders will play at Bainbridge Island today. It will be a chance for the Islanders to prove the win was not a fluke.

``It will be a fun team day and we are looking forward to it,'' said Adrian.

The Islanders played Sammamish Monday (after Reporter deadline). The scheduled match against Bellevue for Sept. 19 has been moved to Sept. 27.

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