Mercer Island boys golf head coach Tyson Peters knew he had a talented and experienced team going into the 2A/3A KingCo medalist tournament on Oct. 14 at Snohomish Golf Course. What he couldn’t have expected is the team performing as well as it did, placing first and shooting 283 as a team.
“We had three of our five guys have career lows or life lows on the same day,” Peters said. “It’s pretty amazing that you can rise to the occasion and perform that well on such a pressured day.”
Peters said one of the reasons for their success was a familiarity with the tournament and the course. Snohomish Golf Course is not a long course, something that Peters said gave his team an advantage.
“They’re veteran players and they’re particularly long hitters,” Peters said. “That course isn’t super long. Since they can hit the ball a long ways and be pretty accurate, they were able to make a lot of birdies and take advantage of the golf course.”
The team also spends a lot of time strategizing and preparing. Peters said that is a point of emphasis for his players.
“We spend a lot of time every week, wherever we play, going over the golf course and studying the layout and talking about course strategy, course management, and where we want to be with each shot,” Peters said. “We’re very deliberate about how we’re going to play a golf course.”
Mercer Island sophomore Ethan Evans tied for first place with Bellevue’s Ian Siebers by shooting a 67. Another top performer for the Islanders was junior Camdon Gierke, who finished third with a 69.
“That was the best tournament round (Gierke) has ever put up in his life,” Peters said. “He’s certainly been capable of it, but it’s one thing to be capable and another thing to be able to execute.”
Henry Watson (73) finished fifth and Jack Dilworth (74) finished seventh overall at the tournament to make up the Islanders top four scores. Even though they didn’t count junior Liam Kelly’s 76 in the team score, Peters said it was a great score.
“That’s a phenomenal round of golf and a great round for him,” Peters said. “The fact that his 76 was our throwaway score is just crazy to say, because every other team would have gladly taken his 76.”
In the regular season, Mercer Island had a 7-2 record, both of its losses coming against rival Bellevue.
“Our motivation is to be the best that we can be and hopefully be the KingCo regular-season champ, but we also knew we had defending state champion Bellevue in the same league, which makes it particularly challenging,” Peters said.
He said getting the better of Bellevue at the KingCo tournament will give them confidence in the district and state tournaments.
Peters said there are pros and cons to being in the same league and competing against Bellevue.
“It’s a pro because it provides absolute motivation for the kids, week in and week out, to have a rival like that,” Peters said. “The flipside is that it’s hard to be in a league where probably the two best teams in the state of Washington are in the same league. Either team realistically deserves to be a league champion.”
Peters said the team is confident heading into the 3A Sea-King district tournament on Oct. 22, at Riverbend Golf Course.
“Ultimately, the hope is that we qualify for state,” Peters said. “We are defending champs at (the district tournament) as well. We feel good about our chances to repeat.”
The Islanders will look to carry the momentum from the KingCo tournament into the district and state tournaments, but Peters said that can be difficult since the state tournament is in May.
Along with its stellar performance on the course, the team was also named as an outstanding academic team by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. Peters said the team had a 3.75 grade-point average during the season.