The Heppner boys golf team took a detour on its way to a tournament in Portland earlier this season, stopping off for a practice round at Quail Valley Golf Course in Banks.
It was no coincidence that the 6,628 yard, par 72 course is the site of this years boys Class 3A/2A/1A state championships.
We do that every year ... because we intend to be there, we hope, and we want them to plant that seed that this is where youre going to come play so go home and work on it,?said head coach Greg Grant.
The Mustangs did just that and after winning their district tournament will return to Quail Valley for 36 holes starting on Monday.
The course wasnt too hard,?said district champion Austin Gutierrez. Its kind of wide open so its kind of easy, nothing to worry about.
Teammate Zac Orem had seen the course in his freshman season at state, which rotates between four courses, and said the Mustangs may want to wait and see how the fairways and greens are playing in Sundays practice round before making any judgments.
The course wasnt in the greatest shape when we went. It was really wet,?he said.
The Mustangs practice course at Willow Creek Country Club has some pretty slow greens, Orem said, and the team has a habit of showing up early no matter where theyre playing to get acclimated.
Were usually one of the first teams there so we get to the range, and get used to the greens, because our greens are a lot slower,?he said.
But it will take more than a few extra swings on the range for the Mustangs to get into the state title race it seems. Heppner shot a team score of 336 on the first day of districts, one of their best rounds of the season.
We have St. Marys and those guys,?Orem said of the top competition at state. We played them at Pumpkin Ridge this year and they shot in the 320s, so thats where were going to have to thrive off that pressure.
Grant said hes got a determined squad that cant be counted out for a medal, though.
This is a group thats been working hard,?he said. This group of kids has been together two or three years now and (the district title) is the fruits of those labors.
Also in action early next week will be the Mustang girls team, which is taking on the state field at Eagle Crest Ridge Course in Redmond, a 5,612-yard par 72 golf course.
Ive never played there before, never even been there,?said sophomore Blake Greenup, who led the team with a second-place finish at districts.
Grant said his goal for the girls team is simple.
Play without fear and go see how much better you can be,?he said.
Thats good advice for both the boys and girls of the Heppner Mustangs team, which will bring back most of their top golfers next season.
Contact Matt Entrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or (541) 310-7626.