Portillo qualifies for state boys golf tournament after rough round

Jesse Portillo chips onto the ninth hole green during the first day of the District 1 golf tournament. Portillo shot a 78 on the first day to set him up for a rough second round.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Jesse Portillo chips onto the ninth hole green during the first day of the District 1 golf tournament. Portillo shot a 78 on the first day to set him up for a rough second round.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

A pair of South Whidbey juniors punched their tickets for the 2A state boys golf tournament.

For one, it’s a return; for the other it’s a first.

Harrison Price finished with 153 strokes after the second day of the District 1 boys golf tournament. His two-day total put him in fourth place in a field of 41 golfers from the Cascade Conference and Northwest Conference, and qualified him for the state tournament May 24-25.

“I went in pretty confident so it’s not a surprise that I made it to state. It’s definitely good that I made it.”

South Whidbey boys golf head coach Steve Jones was confident Price would qualify for state.

“I pretty much knew, with the exception of a major meltdown, he was going to go to state,” Jones said. “Harrison’s at the point now, where his bad rounds are in the upper 70s, low 80s.”

Price shot five more strokes on the second day than his 74 strokes on day one.

“Pretty much the day was I’d make six straight pars, then hit a double [bogey],” Price said. “Then I’d hit five more pars and hit another double. I just had a couple bad holes.”

“I missed a lot of makable putts,” Price added. “The round wasn’t that bad, there are just a couple holes I wish I could have back.”

Last year, Price qualified for the state tournament in Yakima. He missed the cut to advance to the second day by three strokes.

“Last year, I didn’t play that well,” Price said. “I’ve come a long way since then. I’m hoping to go back and play to my full potential.”

Jesse Portillo tied for 16th place with Brandon Stransky at 163 strokes. He shot seven more strokes on day two than his 78 strokes on the first day.

“The second day, I just kind of lost it,” Portillo said. “I think I just was a little bit nervous going into the second day, and ended up speeding up my swing.”

“It was my worst score of the entire season. I was not pleased at all,” he added.

Coach Jones had a different assessment of day two.

“I don’t think [Portillo] was nervous,” Jones said. “He had some flaws in his swing and had some difficulty working those out.”

Heading into the second day, Portillo was confident he would advance. He spent the previous year working on his accuracy, and keeping his drives straight to stay on the green and keep the ball on the fairway.

“I just felt like this was my time and I was very capable,” Portillo said.

After Portillo finished his round, he wasn’t as confident. As more golfers finished, he had a better idea of his standing on the leaderboard.

“It was [relieving] but I was still quite frustrated with my score,” Portillo said. “I was really happy to have made it to state; I thought

I would have been a lot happier to shoot better.”

District 1 was allotted 18 spots, plus two alternates, in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 2A golf tournament. Portillo was one of the last three golfers from District 1 to qualify for the state tournament.

“It feels very good,” Portillo said. “It feels that I have finally accomplished my goal. Last year, I missed the cut by two strokes.”

Falcon senior captain Shane Thompson finished in 31st place at 169 strokes. He missed qualifying by six strokes. Thompson competed in last year’s state golf tournament in Yakima where he was eliminated after the first day.

“In Shane’s situation, it’s very difficult as a coach because we want him to do so well,” Jones said. “It was very, very difficult to watch him because going into the final nine — the back nine — after a few missed putts, a few bogies here and there, the realization that he wasn’t going to go to state set in.”

All three of South Whidbey’s golfers on the second day of the district tournament shot higher scores than on day one. Cold, rain and wind persisted on day one. The skies cleared for the second day, and though the course was still soggy and the greens were saturated, the course condition was not the greatest common denominator between Price, Portillo and Thompson’s scores.

“I think the pressures of trying to qualify for the state championships, naturally, meant the scores were going to increase,” Jones said.

“I’m real proud of the way the boys played,” Jones added. “Even though their scores were a little higher on the second day, they battled; they played hard and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The Classic Golf Club will host the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 2A golf tournament on May 24-25. As of press time, the tee times were not posted on the WIAA website.

Portillo said his new goal is to advance to the second day of the state tourney.

Price hoped to improve last year’s score.

South Whidbey will stay at the Hampton Inn & Suites, Tacoma Mall. Jones said assistant coach Jim Thompson will also travel and stay with the team, and he hoped some Falcon spirit traveled south, too.

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