There is a new winner in the world of B.C. high school golf. The two-time defending champion, Kwalikum Kondors of Qualicum Beach, were dethroned by the Mennonite Educational Institute Eagles (MEI) in the B.C. AA Golf Championship at saturated Predator Ridge Wednesday afternoon.
The Eagles, of Clearbrook, recovered by 18 strokes to clip the Kondors by four shots. The Eagles combined to shoot 318 and 300 in the finale.
“I told them to relax in between rounds,” said Eagles’ coach Rich Balzer. “We have some guys who don’t relax enough out there. I told them to just relax, have fun and hit the shots like they know how to. Our decision making was a lot better today.”
Balzer credits the strong second round by John Engh for the big comeback. Engh carded an opening round 79 and responded with a 72.
“That is a fantastic round for him and it probably made the difference,” said Balzer.
The Eagles brought the same team to the previous two provincials, finishing sixth and 15th. Balzer said he was aiming for a top-three finish this year.
Eagles’ senior Nathan Bahnman has been the leader of the squad all year and turned in an impressive scorecard of 76 and 72.
“I had a couple average rounds but our team played great,” said Bahnman, who didn’t let the odd bad hole affect his game during. “It’s just crazy right now, I don’t even know what to say. I’m thrilled with our team.”
Bahnman was cool down the back stretch, not letting the rain or pressure blur his vision. All his tee shots were struck well, avoiding any difficult approaches to the green.
“Nathan is a prolific golfer, a great leader and very consistent on the course,” said Balzer.
“I was hitting all my irons great today and I was knocking down my putts,” said Bahnman.
The Kondors opened with a 309 and closed with a 313 for a two-day total of 622.
“Being the two-time champs we wanted the three-peat but we fell a little short,” said Kondors’ coach Butch Gaylon. “The guys will be a little disappointed, but it’s a tough course and you got to give credit to MEI, they simply outplayed everyone today.”
The Kondors don’t have any graduating players, so they will be on the hunt to reclaim the provincial title next year.
A Grade 10 student at Kwalikum, Jake Lane finished tied for third after carding 76-70-146.
Tristan Mandur of Shawnigan Lake Secondary won by retrogression to secure the low gross title with a 73-73-145.
The women’s low gross winner was Mary Thomas of St. Thomas More Collegiate with a 76-71-147.
Kalamalka Lakers placed the highest out of any Vernon area schools. They shot a 323 and 325 for 648 and sixth place.
Matthew Kreutz was the top Laker, finishing 14th with a 77-75-152. Jared Larsen was one shot behind his pal at 77-76-153.
Dexter Weiten placed 43rd with an 84 and 89 for 173. Cole Benjaminsen carded a 90-93-183 to finish tied for 49th.
The Seaton Sonics finished eighth with a 339-320-659.
Mac Gourdine shot the best for the Sonics in a tie for 15th with a 78-75-153.
Parker Wadsworth finished tied for 17th after a 77-78-155.
Christian Lacasse carded a 85-80-165 for a share of 49th and Landen Harrison placed 54th with a 99-87-186. The tournament was hosted by Seaton, led by parent organizer Charlie Law.