Lake Washington’s state-qualifying golfers, from left, Matt Uhrich, Eric Jessen and Riley Pluth. Andy Nystrom/Kirkland Reporter

Lake Washington golf trio chips into 3A state tournament

Lake Washington High’s Matt Uhrich has chipped his way back to the 3A state golf tournament for the third year in a row. This time, the Kang senior feels he’s got a good shot at winning it all.

Uhrich took second last year and said he’s on top of his game after qualifying for the premier tournament on Oct. 24 at the SeaKing District event at Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent. He tied for 10th with a 75 and will have plenty of time to prepare for state, which will take place May 22-23 at Creek at Qualchan in Spokane.

Fellow Kang seniors Eric Jessen, who tied for 14th at district (77), and Riley Pluth, who tied for 17th (79), will join Uhrich at state.

According to Uhrich, scoring state success will take, “A lot of practice. Just keeping your game in order and keep swinging the golf club every day so you don’t lose your swing. Just keeping the groove.”

He’s been golfing for 13 years and said it took him awhile before he hit his stride on the course. It’s a hard sport to play, he said, because a golfer can shoot well one tournament and then everything can change the next time out.

Jessen, who last went to state his sophomore year, said the sport can mentally grind golfers, especially when they need to power through the back nine to notch a solid score.

“Last year was a little rough, but this year I got it back,” he said about returning to state.

He’s been on the course since he was young, has put in tons of practice to make his mark and added maturity to his game as well.

“It’s a lot easier to keep my emotions under control. I feel more wise on the course now,” he said. “Everything works out. It might not seem like it during the round — you hit a few bad shots, it might seem like things aren’t going your way — but it all works out in the end.”

Uhrich said golf is an interesting and fun sport.

When he’s playing well, “It’s a really good adrenaline rush and you just feel really proud of yourself afterwards,” he said.

Pluth also returns to the state fold after qualifying as a sophomore and missing out last year.

“It feels great. (State) was a really good experience and I’m just excited to be able to do this my senior year,” said Pluth, who first handled golf clubs when he was 4.

He said last year was a tough one on the course and felt the pressure took him off his game.

However, Pluth put a positive spin on the experience.

“It’s really helped me grow as a player because I’ve gotten a lot more mentally strong,” he said.

For Pluth, the best part about golfing is interacting with friends and family and meeting new people along the way.

His parents and sister have taught him “to stay calm on the course and just focus on the next shot — just let go of the bad shots.”

Cross Country

LW’s Claire Cocales and Sophie Kirov and Juanita’s Felicity Strzelec will run in the 3A cross country state meet on Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

At the 3A SeaKing District meet on Oct. 28 at Lake Sammamish State Park, Cocales finished 17th in 19 minutes, 30.37 seconds on the 5K course, Kirov took 21st in 19:40.48 and Strzelec placed 33rd in 20:04.36.

Swimming

LW and Juanita girls swam strong at last weekend’s 3A KingCo meet at the University of Washington.

Kang state qualifiers were: the 200-yard medley relay of Robin Ying, Charlotte Conze, Helen Wu and Amelia Hammer (1:53.90), a new school record; Wu in the 100-yard butterfly (1:00.49); Hammer in the 100-yard freestyle (54.73); the 200-yard freestyle relay of Katie Wehrman, Hammer, Wu and Conze (1:43.67); and Ying in the 100-yard backstroke (1:00.99).

Juanita qualified two relays to state: the 200-yard freestyle relay of Maja Evans, Alicja Misiuda, Karin Michel and Synneva Nelson (1:43.83), and the 400-yard freestyle relay of Carly Curran, Tova Andersson, Emma Ulvin and Evans (3:46.29).

LW coach David Hale tied for league coach of the year, which was voted on by the coaches.

State is Nov. 10-11 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

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