Lincoln Olson, Nick Rautenberg and Jed Schleimer all had intriguing stories to tell after leading their teams in the Class 1A Northwest District Golf Tournament.
Olson, a three-time state tournament qualifier, tied for the title of the 43-golfer boys’ event on Thursday, May 14, at North Bellingham Golf Course to lead all six Lyncs into the Bi-District Tournament on Monday, May 18, at the Useless Bay course on Whidbey Island.
Rautenberg, a 6-foot-4 Meridian senior best known to many local fans for his basketball skills, has decided to play golf in college and showed why while finishing third as five Trojans advanced.
Schleimer, a Mount Baker sophomore whose ambition is college football, was the Mountaineers’ worst golfer two months ago as he tried the sport for the first time. At districts, he had the team’s top score while leading three other Mounties to bi-district.
In the girls’ 29-player tournament, Meridian senior Anna Ratzlaff, perhaps the area’s most improved player, led Whatcom County entrants and Mount Baker qualified four young golfers for bi-district.
In all, 15 local boys and five local girls made the cuts.
Olson shot 5-over-par 77 to tie South Whidbey’s K. Anton for first, followed by Rautenberg at 78. Schleimer was brilliant for a golf rookie when he shot 39 over his final nine holes to finish at 87.
“My best on any course this year has been 74 Tuesday here (at North Bellingham),” said Olson, who tied for sixth at state last year when he followed a 79 with a dramatic 73 at Lake Spanaway.
“I just know I’m capable of better,” he said. “I had 73s four or five times last year. I know I have the talent to compete. It’s all mental if I can get out of my own way.”
Olson was pleased that he played 15 holes well Thursday, including two birdies, to make up for a double bogey and a triple bogey.
“I’m starting to hit the ball better and better,” said Olson, who has signed to play at Division II Northwest Nazarene. “And my putting has been solid. No amazing days, but it’s never let me down.”
What’s Olson’s goal?
“I want to win at state,” he said with no hesitation, showing how experienced he is under pressure.
Rautenberg, who went to state for the first time last year, said his 78 was “pretty good — not my lowest, but I’ll take it. I was pretty happy with a 37-41.”
His basketball days are over, he confirmed.
“I’m planning to commit for golf at Skagit Valley College,” he said. “You don’t see it very often (a college hoops possibility switching to golf), but golf runs in my family. And I love golf. It’s less stressful. I’ve been playing golf a long time.”
If he can return to state, what would make the affable Meridian senior happy?
“I’m shooting for a top-10 finish,” Rautenberg said.
Schleimer, who had an outstanding season as a running back for Mount Baker last fall, decided to play golf for the first time.
“I’ve always wanted to play a third sport and I wanted a laid-back sport,” he said with a grin. “I started out as the fifth man on the junior varsity. I shot a 60 for nine holes in my first JV match and that kind of humbled me. But I’m a really competitive guy and now getting to state is my goal.”
Baker coach Chad Hoidal has been suitably impressed.
“Jed started as our worst golfer and today he’s leading our team,” he said. “I’m really happy with the team.”
Schleimer displayed his potential on the par-4 15th hole.
“I hit my tee shot 220 yards with my driver. I stuck the ball 3 feet from the cup with my pitching wedge and then putted for a birdie,” he said. “It’s my first birdie.”
Also advancing among local boys were LC’s Erik Vander Velden (91), Travis Roosma (90), Koy Sterk (85), freshman Jake DeYoung (89) and Kaden Sterk (96). For Meridian, it was also Joel Eschbach (83), Jon Kihm (84), Ryan Holz (94) and Cody Bachman (95) who beat the 105 cut. For Baker, also moving on were Tanner Bass (93), Mason Bass (95), Sam Barbo (104), with Austin Multop (105) as an alternate.
Meridian’s Ratzlaff was thrilled with what she called “definitely the best week I’ve ever had. I shot a 94 here Thursday and now 95 today. I parred five of my first nine holes, probably the most I’ve ever had.”
Ratzlaff loves to hit drives now, having worked hard all last summer.
“I can hit my drives a lot farther than last year,” she said. “Last year, I couldn’t hit a drive to save my life.”
Mount Baker’s Gemma Wilson (99), Natalie Verry (100), Ellie Baddeley (103) and Bria Henthorn (105) beat the cut of 108, with Asia Roman (109) as first alternate.
The girls’ winner was King’s Hannah Roh with a dazzling 76.
“Our girls played great,” said Baker coach Mike Lembo. “It was amazing to see them play as well as they did against great competition that we haven’t played against all year. I’m really proud of the girls.”
Likewise, LC coach Dana Hagen was thrilled to see his team fulfill what has become a Lyncs tradition -- to move all six entrants beyond districts.
“I think we’ve done it for about five years now,” said Hagen with a wide smile.
Class 1A Northwest District Tournament
At Par-72 North Bellingham Golf Course
Boys’ top scores (Cut 105): Lincoln Olson (LC) 39-38-77; K. Anton (South Whidbey) 39-38-77; Nick Rautenberg (Meridian) 37-41-78.
Lynden Christian: Lincoln Olson 39-38-77, Koy Sterk 41-44-85, Jake DeYoung 47-42-89, Travis Roosma 46-44-90, Erik Vander Velden 47-44-91, Kaden Sterk 48-48-96.
Meridian: Nick Rautenberg 37-41-78, Joel Eschbach 40-43-83, Jon Kihm 41-43-84, Ryan Holz 45-49-94, Cody Bachman 50-45-95, Ben Ratzlaff 62-50-112.
Mount Baker: Jed Schleimer 48-39-87, Tanner Bass 45-48-93, Mason Bass 43-52-95, Sam Barbo 55-49-104, Austin Multop 51-54-105, Alex Carrell 61-64-125.
Nooksack Valley: Zachary Daniels 55-52-107, Michael O’Bryan 58-50-108, Jimmy Hagen 47-65-112.
Girls’ top scores (Cut 108): Hannah Roh (King’s) 39-37-76, Charis Tsai (King’s) 41-44-85, Tarra Moore (South Whidbey) 46-44-90.
Mount Baker: Gemma Wilson 47-52-99, Natalie Verry 50-50-100, Ellie Baddeley 42-61-103, Bria Henthorn 52-53-105, Asia Roman 51-58-109 Danielle Parmer 57-65-122.
Meridian: Anna Ratzlaff 44-51-95, Ellie Ryan 59-64-123.