Sequim Gazette staff
The staff at The Cedars at Dungeness are good at fostering growth — and it has nothing to do with the rough on the third hole.
Bill Shea and Garrett Smithson, Sequim High’s head coaches, have seen plenty of young talent in
Sequim when they host youth golf camps during summer months. When they see those faces years later as high school freshmen, Smithson says, they know the Wolves won’t need to talk about “rebuilding” their varsity squads.
“I hope it continues to go like this,” Smithson says.
Sequim’s boys and girls each swept their eight league matches en route to league championships last spring and look built to do the same this year.
Sequim’s girls lost three-time state participant Hailey Estes to graduation, but bring back state participants Maddy Fisher (50th at state in 2012) and Elisa Sallee (53rd), plus rising stars in Caitlin Stofferahn, Kailee Price, Cecilee Wech, Brianna Kettel, Annika Lawrence and Kaylee Ditlefsen.
“From top to bottom, we’re pretty consistent,” says Smithson, an assistant golf pro at The Cedars.
Sallee, the team captain, has two state tourney berths in her three years.
“She has the personality of a leader,” Smithson says of Sallee. Fisher is a leader by example, her coach says.
Sequim and Kingston figure to challenge for the league title, and while Klahowya may not challenge for it, Sally Fletcher is one of the league aces, as is Port Angeles’ Dana Fox.
Smithson says his team may be the one to beat thanks to the Wolves’ depth. All six of his starting varsity players could make districts, he says, and it’s realistic to see four of those players earn state berths.
On the boys’ side, Sequim loses four-time state participant Ryan O’Mera, state participant Casey Torres and district qualifier Frank Catelli to graduation. But a young squad led by Anthony Pinza, Travis Priest and freshman Jack Shea gives the Wolves more than a fighting chance at reclaiming the top spot.
Bill Shea said the boys’ team consists mostly of underclassmen who don’t lack in ability, simply experience.
“They’ve done good so far,” he said. “They just haven’t had to deal with a lot of pressure.”
The Wolves’ No. 1 golfer, Pinza, hasn’t had much time on the course due to the basketball team going far in the state tournament, so it’s a matter of players getting back in their rhythm, he said.
Priest and Alex McCracken played the most in the offseason. Shea sees McCracken getting better and better along with Shea’s son Jack.
“He’s doing really well as a freshman without any tournament experience,” Shea said of his son, who has consistently been the third man for Sequim, followed by senior Matt Cays.
“We’ll have a solid season,” Shea said. “On paper Port Angeles’ team is the strongest in the league with their two, three and four men about where everyone’s first man is … Next year their top players will be graduating and we’ll be on top or close.”
As the season progresses, Shea said he and the other coaches plan to place a strong emphasis on course management by dissecting each hole and how to play it best.
“So far, we’ve only played three nine-hole matches and start doing 18 holes after spring break,” Shea said.
“Every players’ average has dropped three or four shots since starting and I expect them to drop a few more in the coming matches. It’s just a matter of getting back into it.”