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Seabury Hall's Loree leads state boys golf at midpoint

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Occasionally, Tyler Loree misses baseball.

The Seabury Hall junior still hears from classmates now and then who try to recruit him to play the sport, but he's doing just fine on the links. Loree carded a 69 Tuesday to grab the first-round lead at the David S. Ishii Foundation/HHSAA Boys Golf State Championships at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course.

OIA champion Nate Choi was in second place at 71 along with Lahainaluna sophomore Owen Hegrenes. Jake Otani of Waiakea was in fourth place at 73, followed by Renner Chumley of Maui Prep, ILH champion Tyler Tamayori of Saint Louis and Maximus Waki of Hawaii Baptist at 74. Jacob Chien of 'Iolani, Hunter Kitagawa of Maui and Keola Silva Jr. of Kahuku are at 75.

Waiakea, led by Otani, carded a team score of 303 for a seven-stroke lead over Maui Prep (310). Moanalua (313), Punahou (317) and 'Iolani (318) are not far behind.

A breezy, sunny morning awaited the field. The 7 a.m. tee time came with light tradewinds. By mid-day, trades swirled through the course, overcome by savvy players like Loree. He posted a 33 on the back nine and 36 on the front nine.

"The wind was pretty consistent. I think it changed around my fourth hole (No. 13), which threw me off a little bit. It's an awesome hole. A little downhill, slopes from left to right. When I was in trouble today, I got out of it, didn't try to do anything special and got myself in the best position I could," he said. "I hit my first one in the bushes and I would've been happy with 5, but I got really lucky. I hit a really good second shot and made a really good putt (for par)."

Loree and his Spartans teammates had two practice rounds at Kaneohe Klipper. Their journey through the MIL championships was a whirlwind. They played four rounds at four golf courses spread over two weekends. Loree became a two-time MIL individual champion. He enjoyed adapting to Kaneohe Klipper.

"I played this course for the first time yesterday (Monday). I love it."

Loree grew up on the East Coast, and when his family moved to Texas, he began to golf. He stopped playing organized baseball when he was 12.

"I got a couple friends trying to get me out (for baseball), but I put all my time in golf. I want to see how far I can take it," he said.

Loree was the runner-up at last year's state tournament at Wailua, Kauai.

Choi and his Na Menehune teammates were at the practice putting greens after the first round.

"We're right in there still yet. We didn't have our best stuff today, but we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot, either," the senior said. "We still give ourselves a chance tomorrow and that's what I'm excited for. I want our guys to dig deep and really go for it."

The 1-under round left Choi somewhat satisfied.

"I feel like I left a lot of strokes out there today. I played solid, so you can't be too disappointed with under par, I guess," Choi said. "(Loree) is a proven talent. He plays national tournaments. You're going to expect him to come out of the gate running, and you've just got to match it. You can't be finding your swing out of the gate."