Atkinson carries Blue Devils’ flag

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RICHLAND — Walla Walla High School senior golfers Nick Atwood and Dean Atkinson were neck-and-neck this season in the aggregate scoring, with Atkinson finishing the season in fourth place in individual scoring and Atwood fifth.

Both were named to the all-Mid-Columbia Conference second team Monday.

But it was Atkinson carrying the Blue Devil banner alone at the first round of the district championships Monday, placing second with a 6-over 78 in howling winds at Richland’s Horn Rapids, while Atwood took a spot on the sidelines after hurting his wrist midway through the front nine.

“We thought he had a good chance,” Wa-Hi coach Jim Smith said of Atwood’s chances to make state. “He couldn’t even shake hands after the round.”

Districts conclude today at Sun Willows in Pasco with a 2:30 p.m. tee time, and the top five golfers from there advance to state.

In second place, Atkinson is in a good position to advance, Smith said.

“What we felt going in ... was that he needed to stay close to the three Richland kids and beat the Pasco kid,” Smith said. “Mission accomplished.

“He beat two of the Richland kids and he’s four strokes ahead of the Pasco kid. He’s in really good shape and he always plays Sun Willows really well, so he will be playing with a lot of confidence.”

In total five Blue Devils made the 16-man cut to today’s championship round, with Nate Towner shooting an 87, Tyler Morrison 91, Konor Clark 96 and Troy Aguilar 98.

Richland’s Hunter Thompson ran away from the pack, shooting an even-par 72 to finish six strokes ahead of Atkinson.

Team-wise, Richland dominated the meet, taking seven out of the top 10 spots.

“If you look at the number of quality golfers the Richland area produces,” Smith said, “it is just unbelievable. Richland traditionally has had a lot of great high school golfers.”

Monday’s round was played in a four-club wind, Smith said, which was something Wa-Hi was prepared for after practicing in rough conditions earlier in the season.

“Strange as it may seem, we’ve had a lot of windy days at practice,” Smith said. “We’ve had them (Wa-Hi) hit a lot of knockdown shots, take more club. If they normally hit a sand wedge 100 yards, I’ll make them hit a 7-iron just to keep them down.”

The Blue Devils who advance from today’s round will play May 21-22 at state at Camas Meadows in Camas, Wash.

Districts conclude today at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

District 5 Championships

First Round

at Horn Ridge

Richland

Hunter Thompson, Rich 35-37 — 72

Dean Atkinson, WW 40-38 — 78

Drew McCullough, Rich 41-38 — 79

Jeffrey Marcum, Rich 41-40 — 81

Daniel Haug, Pas 41-41 — 82

Andrew Hattori, Rich 43-41 — 84

Nick Yamauchi, Rich 42-43 — 85

Hunter Ashby, Rich 46-40 — 86

Nate Towner, WW 44-43 — 87

Evan Hatori, Rich 46-42 — 88

Tyler Morrison, WW 44-47 — 91

Levi Dronen, Chia 47-46 — 93

Tyler Boles, Chia 53-43 — 96

Konor Clark, WW 46-50 — 96

Troy Aguilar, WW 52-46 — 98

Ryan Rickman, Pas 53-50 — 103

Missed Cut

Ben Woodward, Chia 54-47 — 111

Jeremiah Mason, Rich DQ

Nick Atwood, WW WD

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