GOLF PREVIEW: TJ, Decatur bring back plenty of talent from championship teams

The Thomas Jefferson golf program is in great shape this fall. The Raider girls and boys are both primed to make a run at the South Puget Sound League Central Division championship.

For the second year in a row, the Jefferson girls are stacked. The Raiders lapped the field at last season’s SPSL Tournament, finishing 19 strokes ahead of second-place Kentwood. Jefferson also finished unbeaten in the SPSL Central regular season.

The Raiders had four golfers qualify for the state tournament and TJ returns all of them. Leading the way is Alexus Song, who has a pair of top-15 finishes at state. Also back are state-qualifiers Hannah Yi, Jiny Lee and Sarah Yu.

The Raiders showed their dominance Tuesday when they eclipsed the 100-point mark during a 101-65 win over Curtis at Meadow Park Golf Course. Jefferson had five players shoot under 50, led by Yi’s 36.

On the boys’ side, the Raiders lost only one player from a team that finished up in second place in the SPSL Central. Jefferson took early control of the division Tuesday with an 82-73 win over Curtis, who were unbeaten a season ago.

The Raiders bring back one of the more individually talented players in the league in junior A.J. Seo. Seo has qualified for the last two state tournaments and seems primed for another trip.

As a sophomore, Seo was the lone boy from the Federal Way school district to play at state, but failed to make the cut after the first day. Seo fired an opening-round 87 at The Creek at Qualchan in Spokane.

Other key returners include juniors Eugene Kim, Ryan Hagen, Ean Van Bramer, David Jang, Eugene Washington and Kyle George, along with sophomore Jacob Ward. Kim, Seo, George and Ward all fired a 40 or better during the win over Curtis Tuesday at Riverbend Golf Course.

The Decatur Gators should also be very solid in the SPSL 3A Division. The Gator girls have won the last two SPSL 3A titles and bring back another solid group, led by sophomore Celia Beyke.

Beyke had an impressive debut as a freshman when she finished 11th at the state tournament. She fired rounds of 77 and 78 in Spokane.

On the boys’ side, head coach Kevin Olson returns several strong golfers from a season, including seniors Tyler Finneseth and Jacob Jones, junior Carsten Olufson and sophomore Spencer Clapp. The Gators also have newcomers Kaden Pigg, Nick Brainard and Garrett Westberg.

“If things go the right way this team could contend for the league title,” Olson said. “The league graduated several top players from last year, which puts Decatur in the mix for the league title with such a strong returning cast.”

Both Gator teams also benefit from having the Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club as their home course. Most of the players grew up playing at Twin Lakes and know the intricacies of the course.

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