WALLA WALLA - About 70 junior golfers and their families descended on Walla Walla for the Banner Bank Eastern Washington Junior Golf Invitational Thursday and Friday at the Walla Walla Country Club.
And three local golfers walked away with top-three finishes and a crystal cup.
Jake Hanson placed second in the 15-17 year old boys category. This was Hanson's final year of eligibility in the under-17 tournament, and the first time he's placed in his seven years competing there.
"It was great to place," Hanson said, loading his bag and juggling the cup after the award's ceremony. Hanson stroked 73 on the first day and 72 on the second for a combined 145.
The other local residents taking home prizes were in the 12-14 year old girls category.
Jessica Huntsman (85-91-176) placed second and Emily Baumgart (89-93-183) was third, behind repeat champion Kaceelyn Pouttu from Kellogg, Idaho.
This was Huntsman's third year in the tournament, and she wasn't happy with her play.
"I didn't do very well," she said of her score on the links after coming through the attesting tent. "This is a good experience. It carries well into practice."
Baumgart ran into some tough holes, but she said she enjoyed herself.
"This was fun," she said. "It was a good experience and a good chance to meet people."
Hanson has about 10 summer tournaments lined up with the Washington Junior Golf Association (WJGA) - basically one per weekend. This invitational was part of the WJGA.
"It's a good chance to play," Hanson said. "I'm friends with a lot of these guys, and we have a good time."
Hanson had some frustration through the day.
"I started off good, but I struggled with my short game," he said. "I got down four, but then struggled on a couple holes and got back to even.
"But I had a good round, at 72. My first and second rounds combined are a pretty good score."
Hanson was four strokes behind the winner, Clarkston's Tyler Carlson (71-70-141).
It's also an opportunity to meet college coaches and prepare for the school year, he said.
Hanson, a Wa-Hi golfer, has yet to qualify for the state tournament.
"My goal next year is to make it to state," he said. "That would be good. I'll be doing WJGA all summer and working hard."
Other local golfers also took good experiences from the tournament. Dean Atkinson (86-76-162) dropped 10 strokes from his day one score.
"It went pretty good (Friday)," Atkinson said. "My putting came around."
Most of his trouble Thursday was from putting, he said.
"That took me up," he said. "I worked on it."
This was Atkinson's second year in the tournament.
"I think it's really good," he said of the tournament. "It went well. It's a good place to play and an opportunity to meet people."
And Nick Atwood came off the boys 12-14 round less than thrilled.
"I did horrible," he said of his 78-92-170 tournament, where his strokes increased on every hole over the first day. This was Atwood's fifth time in the tournament.
"It's good to experience a tournament situation," he said. "It's a different pace and there's a lot more pressure."
That's part of the goal, said tournament organizer Carol Morgan. This is the 18th year of the invite-only tournament, which typically brings 50-80 Eastern Washington and Northwestern Idaho players to town. Golfers from Coeur d'Alene, Spokane, the Tri-Cities, Clarkston, Hermiston and the Yakima Valley attended this year's tournament.
"This is some of the better golf talent in the region," Morgan said. "They have to meet certain standards and screening guidelines to be invited here."
And many of the golfers Thursday and Friday are consistently leaders in their athletic divisions and at the state level in high school play.
"The summer golf season is more intense," she said. "These tournaments are a good resume builder to attract college coaches. ... This is higher-caliber play than most high school tournaments. Most of the kids playing high school golf, especially the better ones, play in WJGA. There are more tournaments and more opportunities to talk to coaches."
College coaches have occasionally arrived at the Banner Bank Invitational, but it's rare, she said. Usually, they're at the higher-level matches.
But one year, a Washington State University coach was there - to support his daughter, who was playing.
About 70 golfers from Washington, Idaho and Oregon attended this invitational, Morgan said.
Banner Bank is the original tournament sponsor, said Doug Bayne, bank director of marketing.
The bank sponsors the trophies and lunch for the golfers.
"This is part of our community support," he said. "It's part of living and doing business in Eastern Washington and Washington state."
Many of the golfers will hit the links again this week at Canyon Lakes in Kennewick before heading back to Walla Walla this weekend for play at Wine Valley golf course.
Tyler Carlson Clarkston 71-70-141
Jake Hanson Walla Walla 73-72-145
Ryan Books East Wenatchee 73-14-147
Nick Atkin Kennewick 75-73-148
Eric Gravbrot Yakima 77-71-148
Sean Prue Kennewick 76-74-150
Riley Hayfield Kennewick 76-75-151
Nick Mandell Kennewick 76-76-152
B. Stillinger Coeur d'Alene, ID 76-76-152
Hunter Thompson Richland 76-76-152
Kurt Simmons Hermiston, OR 80-73-153
Samson Martinez Pasco 76-78-154
Mathew Rezendes Richland 76-78-154
Tanner Martin Richland 79-77-156
Zachary Spencer Mead 78-78-156
Jess Wingett Valleyford 77-79-156
Evan Dyar Spokane 80-77-157
R. Lacolucci South Cle Elum 82-75-157
Jack Tumlinson Kennewick 79-78-157
Jack Eiden Richland 80-78-158
Austin Westphal Kennewick 80-78-158
Austin Billeter Mead 81-78-158
Jeffrey Marcum West Richland 79-80-159
S. Skipper Coeur d'Alene 83-76-159
Zachary Powell Odessa 83-77-160
C. Simpson Spirit Lake, Idaho 79-82-161
Dean Atkinson Walla Walla 86076-162
Daniel Cruzen Kennewick 83-79-162
D.J. Hoyt Kennewick 84-80-164
Cole Risley West Richland 84-80-164
Garrett Adair Moscw, Idaho 85-81-166
R. Newcomb Nine Mile Falls 81-85-166
Mitch Rummer Deer Park 78-89-167
Tyler Jensen Yakima 83-86-169
Tommy Shepard Spokane 84-86-170
T. Anderson Moscow, Idaho 83-81-164
Kristin Strankman Richland 81-86-167
Mary McDonald Richland 87-81-168
Taylor Kain-Godoy Richland 89-83-172
Hope Neidhold Richland 84-92-176
Kelsey Aiello Pasco 93-89-182
Renae Visser Sunnyside 95-89-184
Michal Schuster St. John 90-97-187
Brianna Hadler Richland 89-102-191
Katie Stephens Richland 92-99-191
Erin Schuster St. John 94-105-199
Michael Baldeck Clarkston 76-70-146
Eric Dahl Richland 81-78-159
Blake Ellingsen Spokane 82-78-160
Andrew Raab Yakima 83-80-163
Tanner Comes Spokane 82-82-164
Matthew Heckel Spokane 84-81-165
S. Roller Hayden, Idaho 88-77-165
B. Gleason Lewiston, Idaho 85-83-168
Nick Atwood Walla Walla 78-92-170
Nathan Nulliner Yakima 93-86-179
Joseph Fenich Yakima 98-86-184
Austin Brown Kennewick 97-89-186
Jacob Rupp Chatteroy 100-88-188
Cody Culletto Clarkston 99-92-191
B. Stejar Spokane 103-105-208
Michael Warner Kennewick 136-130-266
K. Pouttu Kellogg, Idaho 76-79-155
Jessica Huntsman Walla Walla 85-91-176
Emily Baumgart Walla Walla 89-93-182
Neydeen Martinez Pasco 90-93-183
Haylee Hammons Pasco 101-91-192
Jalayne Martinez Pasco 95-98-193