WARRENTON - The Astoria boys golf team was playing the mental game Monday afternoon.

But instead of "use the force" it was "play the course," as the Fishermen went into Monday's final round of the District 1 Championships tied with Scappoose for the team lead. But it was the Fishermen who landed the championship.

Astoria coach Dan Foss said, "We told our guys at the beginning of the day, 'you're playing the course, you're not playing Scappoose. Just keep your focus and play your game.' And they did."

The Fishermen finished with a 344 team score, which - combined with their 321 in the first round - gave Astoria a final total of 665.

Scappoose, which also had 321 after the first round, fired a 355 Monday to finish at 676.

Astoria sophomore Digger Cokley was playing a few mind games himself, and ended up winning the battle within the battle.

Cokley went into the final round trailing Aaron Wabschall of Scappoose by one stroke on the leader board. The two golfers battled close for 14 holes, before Cokley pulled away.

Cokley shot a 39-36-75 for a two-day total of 150, while Wabschall finished the day with a 40-47-87 and two-day total of 161.

"Every time down the fairway, I'm thinking 'block him out, play the course, block him out ...' I kept thinking that, but it was hard," Cokley said.

"Basically the key was the 15th hole, and I just shot him down," he said. "I drove the green in one and ended up two-putting for a birdie, and he ended up chipping in for par.

"On 16 he hit a pretty good drive, but I made a birdie putt which basically sunk him," Cokley said. "He kind of fell apart, and I took advantage of it."

Wabschall was assessed a two-stroke penalty on the 16th hole. Following a poor shot, Wabschall threw his club, which landed on his golf ball, moving the ball and costing him one stroke. He failed to move the ball back to its original spot, which cost him another stroke.

"Digger was very determined today," Foss said. "He had a single focus all year, and he was rock solid. Aaron (Wabschall) is a competitor, and they went back and forth all through the back nine. It was just a matter of a couple strokes here and there."

Astoria's Ryan Walsh finished with a two-day total of 168, tying him for fourth place with Matt Stirling of Scappoose.

Ben "Slim" Wintermute shot a 45-43-88, for a two-day total of 172. Ryan Gallagher finished at 175, and Jae Kim rounded out the scoring at 188.

"These guys have played well all year," Foss said. "They've had their goals since the beginning of the year, and it all came together today. I was really proud of them.

"They were all close to their averages," he added. "Ryan (Walsh) went a little higher than normal, but he's been tough all year. And I was real proud of Ben - those were back-to-back best finishes for him. His average is 93, and he shot 84-88, which is pretty outstanding. Gallagher came back strong with a 44 on the back nine today."

Seaside finished a distant third in the team standings at 732 (355-377). Individually, the Gulls were led by Jeff Sturgeon's two-day total of 174. Karl Hertig finished at 175, followed by Mitch Winstanley (192), Kevin Irish (193) and Dwight Holland (201).

Banks (740) and Rainier (787) were also competing.

Individually, third place went to Josh Cochran of Banks, with a 165.

Astoria will now prepare for the state tournament, May 13-14 at Eagle Crest Golf Course, near Redmond.

"I think they'd like to finish in the top seven and get a trophy at state," Foss said of his players. "That's well within our reach, if we can play like we have been. They've been very focused and unified all year.

"We knew we were in good shape to go to state as a team, but to win districts is just icing on the cake," he said. "They've been putting in tons of time out here, ever since last season ended. They're just a group of golfing maniacs."


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