Blaine golfer Ryan Wallen is sweeping up in the post season with wins at the Northwest Conference, 1A District and Tri-District tournaments. Wallen and teammate Devan Boucher will be heading to the state tournament May 21–22.
Boucher and Antonie Inthavong joined Wallen at the tri-district competition in Bremerton on May 14 after making it through regional competition.
The district tournament at North Bellingham Golf Club May 9 consisted of 45 golfers competing for 27 spots in the tri-district
tournament. Wallen shot a two-under-par 70 to win. Boucher shot a 77 to tie for third and Inthavong shot a 90 to tie for 19th.
“I was very pleased with my entire team’s performance at districts,” said coach Steve Barthlow. “If you get two or more guys to state and they make it through to the second round, their cumulative scores can translate into a team win, so state could be interesting.”
At tri-districts, Boucher shot an 87 to tie for 24th place. Wallen won the tournament after beating Kings’ Jack Ryan O’Neil in the first hole of a playoff. Wallen and O’Neil tied in the initial 18-rounds with a one-over-par 73.
Lynden Christian’s Willy Scholten finished one stroke behind Wallen for the third time in the post-season; the competitive friends finished the same way in the conference and district tournaments.
“I don’t know why it’s ended up that way three times in a row, we’re just really competitive,” Wallen said. “We battle hard with each other which elevates our play, but we’re also really good friends so it makes the competition that much more enjoyable.
“Ryan always plays best when the guys around him are relaxed and having fun,” father Jerry Wallen said. “Willy seems to relax Ryan and help him excel because he likes to kid around and have fun, too.”
Wallen said conditions were tough at the Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton, where tri-districts were held. “It was tough to read the greens. I had a lot of two-putts,” he said. Scholten had a 12-foot eagle putt to tie on the last hole and left it just short.
“I’m definitely happy with how the day turned out, and to have two Blaine guys headed to state means the team has a chance to earn a medal at states for the first time in a while.”
Barthlow said Boucher continued to play his consistent game at the district tournament, which helped him to shoot a five over par 77.
“These past four or five weeks, Boucher’s game has really come around and he is playing with great confidence,” Barthlow said.
Jordan Antonson and Charlie Baldwin both shot a 97 at the district tournament, and missed qualifying for tri-districts by two strokes.
“It was Charlie’s best round of the year,” Barthlow said.
Wallen is used to the state level of competition; he won the 2A state championship his sophomore year and placed second in 2A last year. The transition to 1A means different players and different competition.
Last year’s state champion in 1A was Ross Kukula from Ilwaco, who will be competing as a senior this year. Scholten took second in the 1A state tournament last year.
Wallen brings a consistent drive off the tee and amnesia for bad holes to his golf game.
“Many kids give up after a few tough holes, but Ryan is really a grinder,” Jerry Wallen said. “He plays all 18 holes and never quits on a round.”
“I’ve been coaching multiple sports since 1982, and to have an athlete like Ryan is something really rare,” Barthlow said. “With his skill and ability he’s been a real treat to watch.”