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Golf: an elusive banner
By Matt Phelps
Goals are important to the Mercer Island High School boys golf team. One specific goal has been elusive for the program: the 3A KingCo regular-season title.
``There is still no boys golf banner in the gymnasium,'' said Islander senior David Kelley. ``We want one that reads 2005 and we want to leave our mark.''
That sentiment has been echoed during the last three years by past senior leaders, but each has had that goal evade even the best of Islander teams.
Last season Mercer Island missed the title by just one match win but managed to take the 3A medalist or KingCo match title. The team also took second at districts and sent three golfers and an alternate to state.
``We are backing up a bit,'' said Mercer Island High School boys golf head coach Gary Adrian. ``We are not looking too far ahead. We are really trying to take one match at a time.''
That cliché might be exactly what the team needs as it has struggled to stay on track.
``We have to be more consistent,'' said Adrian. ``We have to put everything on the line and it will come down to one or two matches again.''
Those matches might be against Bellevue or Newport, two teams the Islanders will have to get past to take the title.
``Neither team lost any players. We are still really strong, but have to be consistent,'' said Adrian.
One player who has yet to achieve the heights projected during his freshman and sophomore years is senior Shawn Tonkin. His sophomore year has been his best to date at the state meet as he took 16th overall. He missed the second day of state last year.
``I just need to focus on every shot,'' said Tonkin. ``It's just like in basketball, I just didn't hit the shots.''
Tonkin has worked hard this offseason. He even attended a golf school to improve his swing and become more consistent.
``He has worked very hard and he is still trying to perfect that new swing. The mental part of the game has been the toughest part for him, though,'' said Adrian. ``He just needs to get that first day of state out of the way.''
But Tonkin wants to focus on the present and not the future in order to stay sharp. The thought of the KingCo title brings out the fire in the senior.
``I want that league title so bad,'' said Tonkin. ``I really think this is our best chance and the best team we have had.''
The team already has its top five set with Tonkin, Kelley, Ian Code, Peter Malloly and Paul Mitzell.
Code surprised a lot of people last season when he made the state cut out of districts.
``He has a really good game but he ran into some loop-holes, or mental lapses last year,'' said Adrian. ``He would just lose it on one or two holes. If he gets over that he has a lot of potential.''
As for Kelley, the end of the golf season can be stressful. The senior will be a big part of the Mercer Island basketball team.
``He is the best athlete on the golf team,'' said Adrian. ``He is just now trying to get into the swing of things with golf because of summer basketball and that is tough.''
During a tryout match Kelley made a double eagle on a par five 470 yard hole at Sumner Meadows Golf Course proving her is ready for the season.
The team still needs to find a solid No. 6 player.
The Islanders have a lot of up and coming underclassmen as well with juniors Brian Naden and Jason Tolkin, along with sophomores Daniel Kern and Brian Tolkin.
Head coach: Gary Adrian (ninth year at Mercer Island).
Assistant coaches: Doug Weaver and Les Scott.
Last year's record and accomplishments: 5-2 in-league, won 3A KingCo meet, second at districts and sent three players and an alternate to state.
Key athletes graduated: Pat Dunlop and Luke Parker.
Key athletes this season: Shawn Tonkin (Sr), Brian Naden (Jr), David Kelley (Sr), Ian Code (Sr), Peter Malloly (Sr) and Paul Mitzell (Sp).
Athletes on the rise: Jason Tolkin (Jr), Daniel Kern (Sp) and Brian Tolkin (Sp).
Keys to a good season: Stay focused on match at hand.
Big meets on the regular-season schedule: Bellevue and Newport.
Strength: Senior leadership experience.
Weakness: Find a solid No. 6.