WEST RICHLAND - Defending champion Dona Dunovant of Walla Walla matched even-par 72 here Sunday at Horn Rapids and took a two-shot lead into today's second and final round of play at the NWAACC Championships golf tournament.
The second round will be played at the Canyon Lakes Golf Course in Kennewick.
"She basically parred her way around the golf course," Warriors coach Mike Rostollan said of Dunovant's opening round. "She had one birdie and one bogey. She made it look easy.
"From tee to green, she thought this was her best round of the season," Rostollan said. "But she didn't putt particularly well. Had her putter been working, it might have been over on Sunday."
Dunovant holds a two-shot lead over Allayna Herring of Bellevue, who carded a 74 on a Horn Rapids course that "played fairly" under "ideal conditions," Rostollan said.
Spokane's Kelsey Berg was alone in third place at 77, five shots off the pace, and a second Sasquatch, Alexa Bell, was another stroke back at 78. Crystal McDaniels of Skagit Valley was a fifth woman in the 36-player field to shoot in the 70s with a first-round 79.
Spokane, the regular-season champion, carded a 240 total for its top three players and held a five-shot lead over Bellevue. Skagit Valley was in third place at 246, six shots off the lead, and Walla Walla was alone in fourth place at 266, two spots better than the Warriors' sixth-place finish during the regular season.
Olympic, at 271, came next, followed by host Columbia Basin 285, Centralia 295 and Treasure Valley 342.
Jamie Robison shot 94 and Jordan Simkins scored an even 100 for Walla Walla's other two scores.
"They're all three sophomores," Rostollan said of his three women players. "They've been with me every step of the way, and they're going to be missed next year."
On the men's side, regular-season champion Spokane shot a 293 for its top four scores and was well out in front of the field. Bellevue was second with a 307 score, followed by Walla Walla and Olympic, knotted at 310, Skagit Valley 311, Green River 312, Southwest Oregon 315, Columbia Basin 325, Treasure Valley 328 and Grays Harbor 359.
Tyler McDougall of Bellevue was the day's medalist with a 3-under-par 69, which was good for a two-shot advantage over Spokane's Andrew Roller, who at 71 was the only other player in the 54-player field to break par.
Alex Pounds of Spokane was alone in third place at even-par 72 and Walla Walla's Ash Miles was one more stroke back at 73 and alone in fourth place. Alex Mroz of Bellevue came next with a two-over 74.
Walla Walla's other counting scores came from Eric Wright, who shot 76 and was in ninth place; Josh Scothorne, who carded an 80; and Cory Spencer, who came in at 81. Mike Ervin shot a non-counting 82 and Drew Morgan, with 88, was the Warriors' sixth player.
"Ash was three under after nine holes," Rostollan said of Miles. "And he lipped out a 6-footer on the ninth hole that would have put him four under. But with a handful of bogies, four actually, he didn't play as well on the back. But he is still in the thick of it.
"He is from Richland and this is a homecoming for him," the coach added. "He grew up playing these courses."
Rostollan called Wright's 76 "our most consistent round" but suggested his No,. 2 scorer would face a stiffer challenge today at Canyon Lakes.
"Sunday's round was kind of ho-hum," Rostollan said of Wright. "But he'll be tested today because he wasn't with us when we played Canyon Lakes during the season. This will be his first look at it."
Scothorne had to overcome stomach flu during Sunday's round, Rostollan said.
"He's been my go-to player, rock-solid all season," the coach said. "But he was really hurting on the front side. He finally settled down and shot even-par on the back side."
The Warriors, who finished third during the regular season, found themselves just three shots out of second place going into today's play. But that was largely due to a disqualification that cost second-place Bellevue seven strokes in the team standings.
"One of their players signed for a 76 when he actually shot a 77," Rostollan said. "So they had to count an 84.
"Sure, we have a shot at second place, and we've beaten Bellevue before during the regular season. We could overtake them, but I am just as concerned about the teams that are right behind us, because the team scoring is very close."