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Salem Academy girls golf captures state title; Cascade boys tie for third

CRESWELL —  Almost exactly a year ago to the day, the Cascade boy’s golf team fell one stroke short of capturing its first state trophy finish in program history.

This time around, the margins were just as thin. But a clutch putt from the Cougars’ top player helped them flip the script Tuesday at Emerald Valley Golf Club.

Cascade finished tied for third with North Bend and Scappoose with an overall score of 703 at the OSAA 4A state tournament. The Cougars tallied a team score of 343 during Monday’s opening round and began the final day in third place with a three-stroke buffer. They shot 360 as a team on Tuesday and, late in the evening, thought their chances of finishing on the podium might be dashed.

But, on the final shot of his high school career, senior Kyler Hemelstrand buried a tough birdie putt on 18 to push the Cougars into a tie with the Bulldogs and the Indians.

For a team whose mantra all season was, “every stroke matters” the moment served as a profound ending to a historic campaign.

“It definitely is emotional after losing out by one stroke last year,” Cascade coach Jason Haskell said. “To tie, and realize that we do get a trophy this year is just amazing. … I’m very, very pleased with how the team fought through a lot of adversity. I’m very proud of those guys.”

Cascade’s Kyler Hemelstrand chips the ball onto the green during the OSAA Class 4A Boys Golf State Championship at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
Cascade’s Kyler Hemelstrand chips the ball onto the green during the OSAA Class 4A Boys Golf State Championship at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

Hemelstrand, who captured a district title on the same course a week prior to the state tournament, had ambitions of taking home an individual state title, too. He placed seventh at state last season and sat in third place, just one stroke back of the leaders, when play began on Tuesday.

But a difficult stretch on the back nine squashed those hopes.

“I wish it wouldn’t have ended like this,” Hemelstrand said of the tournament. “But you’ve just got to fight through it; the wind was brutal today. Couldn’t do the lot — off the tee was tough. I wasn’t hitting a lot of greens, just kind of flying all over the place. But I just kept battling the best I could.”

When he lined up his final putt of the day, Hemelstrand had no idea that it could prove to be the difference between Cascade finishing in the top three. Scorecards hadn’t been tabulated at that point.

“It’s amazing to watch,” Haskell said of Hemelstrand. “As he’s double-bogeying holes and triple-bogeying holes — which he never does — I can see the disappointment on his face. But to just continue to fight and know that every stroke matters, like we had talked about before, to have that birdie on 18 be the shot that ultimately got us a trophy, it’s a testament to his resilience.”

Despite his frustration with his own play, Hemelstrand (6th overall, 159) still set the pace for a Cascade squad that battled plenty of adversity throughout the week. Standout junior Cruz Shank (20th overall, 176) and senior Zach Wilson (35th, 187) were both sick and throwing up during Monday’s opening round.

“For them to even finish their rounds yesterday was amazing,” Haskell said.

But junior Kaiden Ford (25th, 181) gave the Cougars a big boost.

“He’s always had the potential to shoot much lower scores than he’s been showing in tournaments,” Haskell said. “On Monday he shot an 88, which I believe is his best-ever score in a tournament. I was very proud of Kaiden’s performance."

Cascade’s Kaiden Ford chips the ball onto the green during the OSAA Class 4A Boys Golf State Championship at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell Tuesday, May 14, 2024.
Cascade’s Kaiden Ford chips the ball onto the green during the OSAA Class 4A Boys Golf State Championship at Emerald Valley Golf Club in Creswell Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

Sophomore Cameron Wilson finished 46th and shot 196 for Cascade.

Marist won the team title with a 659 (+39) overall score. Phoenix freshman Jordan Giles captured the individual title and shot 147 (+3) to help the Pirates to a second-place finish.

“I love this group,” Hemelstrand said. “They make golfing fun, on and off the course. It’s everything — the hotels, the buses. I’ve made a lot of memories just on the bus rides home with these guys. I’m happy we could finish third together. I’m going to miss them, for sure.”

Salem Academy girls golf assistant coach Brooks Gladow, Ellie Gladow, Alex Willcoxen, Sloane James, Chloe Johnston and head coach Melissa Turner stand with their state title trophy.
Salem Academy girls golf assistant coach Brooks Gladow, Ellie Gladow, Alex Willcoxen, Sloane James, Chloe Johnston and head coach Melissa Turner stand with their state title trophy.

Salem Academy captures 4A/3A/2A/1A girls title

The Salem Academy girls golf team captured its first-ever state title — and did so in dominant fashion — at the 4A/3A/2A/1A state tournament at Tokatee Golf Club in McKenzie Bridge.

The Crusaders shot 758 over two rounds and finished 80-over. They ended the tournament well ahead of runner-up Crook County (772 overall, +94).

“We’ve focused a lot this year on the mental side of, ‘You can’t change a bad shot. You can’t predict what the next shot is going to look like. You can only look at the current shot that you’re about to hit — that’s the only shot that matters in a round of golf,’” Salem Academy coach Melissa Turner said. “So, we focused a lot on that. I think that’s helped them not have this big picture where they feel like they need to shoot a certain score. They’re just out there having fun, enjoying themselves.”

Salem Academy features an overwhelmingly young group; it’s title-winning squad consists of three freshmen — Chloe Johnston, Ellie Gladow, and Sloane James — and sophomore Alexandrea Willcoxen.

Turner admits that during Monday’s opening round, which culminated in a team score of 390, there were some difficult moments.

“Lots of meltdowns on Monday,” Turner said. “Kids crying, coming off the green crying. After a (plus-11, or plus-10) they just feel like the game is over. That’s where you have to pull them aside and remind them, like, ‘That shot doesn't matter anymore. We need to move on — we’re here to have fun.’ There’s zero expectation. Because they’re so young, because they had just won districts, they felt like they had made it to the big dance, in a sense. … I told them that I didn’t care if they shot 120, or if they shot 85. They needed to go have fun.”

The Crusaders took the message to heart that following day.

During Tuesday’s final round, they shot 368 as a team — 10 strokes better than any other school on the day. All four golfers finished with a substantially better score on day two than day one.

“I think they all did a really good job of just trying to have fun and stay upbeat and stay as positive as possible,” Turner said. “I have four girls who, even though golf is mostly known as an individual sport, this is a team sport for them. They really are a tight-knit group; very bonded and good friends. … They’re already talking about playing golf with each other during the summer, just so they can stay connected.”

Salem Academy's scorers were as follows:

  • 6: Johnston (171)

  • 8: Willcoxen (179)

  • 13: Gladow (181)

  • 47: James (227)

Blanchet Catholic finished 12th in the team standings (+152, 897). The Cavaliers players finished with the following scores:

  • 30: Hallie Beyer (204)

  • 49: Lily Castaneda (228)

  • t55: Claire Raffensperger (232)

  • 58: Denavae Randall (233)

  • 62: Emily Barnett (260)

Here's a roundup of how others Salem area golfers performed in state tournaments.

6A Boys (Quail Valley Golf Club, Banks)

  • t44: Clayton Watters (Sprague) 163

  • t47: Riley Quillin (West Salem) 165

  • t56: Elijah Clendening (McNary) 167

  • t82: Blake Johnston (West Salem) 182

  • t84: Miles Cabling (West Salem) 186

  • 86: Bo Purnell (North Salem) 187

  • 88: Carson Colello (West Salem) 195

  • 89 Zach Karvandi (West Salem) 211

6A Girls (Trysting Tree Golf Club, Corvallis)

  • t22: Emily Keel (Sprague) 168

  • 33: Isabella Morrow (Sprague) 176

  • t39: Izzy Faulkner (McNary) 180

  • 51: Hailey Morris (McNary) 188

  • t52: Riley Sparkman (West Salem) 189

  • t63: Amari Young (Sprague) 193

  • t71: Ellie Bishop (West Salem) 201

  • t75: Aubrey Sorensen (Sprague) 203

  • 77: Sidney Tackett (McNary) 207

  • 78: Kiera Hugmeyer (Sprague) 208

  • 81: Addy Andrew (McNary) 209

5A boys (Quail Valley Golf Club, Banks)

  • t21: Cody Burbank (Dallas) 167

  • t29: DyLon Renteria (Woodburn) 171

  • t34: Kanon Kintner (Dallas) 173

  • t37: Tyson Lunde (Dallas) 174

  • 50: Micah Curtis (Dallas) 183

5A girls (Trysting Tree Golf Club, Corvallis)

  • 13: Hilaria Trevino (Woodburn) 178

  • 14: Akira White (Central) 179

  • 20: Ellie Traeger (Silverton) 187

  • t22: Grace Hannan (Dallas) 191

  • t25: Savannah Roblin (Dallas) 195

  • t32: Emma Puente (Woodburn) 201

  • 37: Amelia Broyhill (Silverton) 206

  • t41: Kansas Brister (Silverton) 210

  • 44: Brynn Kelsey (Silverton) 212

  • 45: Bethany West (Dallas) 213

  • 46: Lilly Aime (Dallas) 216

  • 47: Marina Cheremnov (Silverton) 219

  • t48: Neyda Segura Hernandez (Woodburn) 221

3A/2A/1A boys (Emerald Valley Golf Club, Creswell)

  • t12: Gage Slaughter (Western Christian) 165

  • t16: Kaden Robinson (Western Christian) 168

  • t24: Jackson Nicoli (Western Christian) 175

  • 26: Joseph Beyer (Blanchet Catholic) 177

  • 40: Logan Hill (Western Christian) 192

  • t41: Jake Robinson (Western Christian) 193

Jarrid Denney covers high school sports and Oregon State for the Statesman Journal. He can be reached at JDenney@salem.gannett.com or on X @jarrid_denney

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Cascade boys, Salem Academy girls place at OSAA state golf tourneys