MOSES LAKE - Sunnyside High School junior Nathan Espinoza put himself back into the running for a spot in this year's 3A Regional golf tournament.
Competing at the fourth Columbia Basin Big Nine League match of the season yesterday, with only one conference competition remaining, Espinoza carded his low round of the season. His 7-over-par 78 on Monday came at the Moses Lake Country Club. The par-71 course was playing at 6,282 yards yesterday.
Individual berths to the 3A Regional tourney are based on points accumulated in league competitions. The 12 golfers from the three 3A schools in the CBBN with the most league points are afforded berths to Regionals. Espinoza currently has the 11th most points.
Espinoza opened Monday's CBBN match with a workman-like 4-over-par 40 on the front nine. The SHS junior linkster, thanks to a pair of birdies after the clubhouse turn, turned up the heat on the back side and finished with a 3-over-par 38.
His final birdie came on the par-4 closing hole. Espinoza's approach shot on No. 18 came up just short of the green, but he hit a short lob wedge and the ball found nothing but the bottom of the cup to give him his second tweeter on the day.
Team-wise at Moses Lake, the Grizzly boys golf team unofficially recorded a 12th place finish from the 15-school field. Sunnyside's 364 team total was 13 strokes better than that of 4A Chiawana (377), with 4A schools Davis and Eisenhower bringing up the rear with aggregate totals of 390 and 394, respectively.
Securing top team honors on Monday in a five-way battle that saw only seven strokes separating the best clubs was Richland. The Bombers, behind Cole Lorenzo's 2-under-par 69, tallied a 298. Walla Walla was two strokes back in the second-place position with a 300. The 3A Hanford Falcons, getting a pair of 3-over-par 74's from Tanner Martin and Scott Kim, placed third with a 301. Kamiakin and Southridge placed fourth and fifth, respectively, with team scores of 303 and 305.
Official results from the CBBN match yesterday have yet to be verified.
In tallying a 12th best 364, Sunnyside for the first time this season had all four of its starters post individual rounds under 100.
After Espinoza's stellar round of 78, the Grizzlies got scores of 91, 97 and 98 from Chandler Luther, Nathan Meyer and Nick Navarro, respectively.
Luther's bogey-filled 91 was a consistent effort on the part of the underclassman. He carded a 44 on the front side, a 47 on the back nine.
Meyer turned in one of his better nines of the season with a front side 45. "That was pretty nice for him," said Sunnyside Coach Gary Rohde. Meyer slipped a bit after he made the clubhouse turn, finishing up his round with a 52.
Navarro turned in just the opposite performance, struggling to a 55 on the opening nine but slicing and dicing his back nine score to a 43.
"Quite a turnaround for Nick," said Rohde.
The Grizzlies' fifth golfer in yesterday's league match was Trey Rice. His 113 (57-56) was not applied to the team total.
The Sunnyside boys golf squad isn't scheduled to compete again until Monday, May 3, at the Southridge Invitational at Kennewick's Canyon Lakes Golf Course.