High School Sports

Olympia’s Connor McCauley, Nolan Backman advance to state with top-five finishes in 4A Narrows golf championships

Nolan Backman held his putter in both hands and stared at his second putt of the 18th hole. It rolled just right of the cup.

The senior for the Olympia High School boys golf team tapped his third putt in for a bogey to finish at 2-over 74 on the second day of the 4A Narrows League Championships Wednesday at Lake Spanaway Golf Course and fifth place overall at 147 over two days.

Bellarmine Prep finished in first, with RJ Manke and Joe Highsmith taking the first and second spots. Backman beat both of them at Tumwater Valley last week.

But he took solace in earning a spot in the 4A state tournament field for the third year, with the top six finishers from the league tournament getting to skip the district tournament and start preparing for a trip to the Creek at Qualchan Golf Course in Spokane.

“I hit the ball phenomenal yesterday and couldn’t make anything and today I hit like crap and made a lot of good par putts,” Backman said. “But today for me was just about advancing. It was just about grinding it out and going to state.”

He’s one of two from Olympia making the trip to Spokane. Teammate Connor McCauley shot 1-over 72 on Wednesday to finish in third place at 145.

But nobody was catching Manke, the Bellarmine Prep sophomore who shot 5-under 67 on Wednesday to finish at 9-under 135 for the tournament.

Manke was eight strokes ahead of Highsmith, a freshman who took second at 1-under 143.

McCauley birdied on holes 3, 5 and 10, but ran into trouble after that with a bogey on 13, double bogey on 15 and another bogey on 16.

“That front nine I played really well, but that back nine kind of killed me,” McCauley said.

Backman and McCauley finished first and second when Olympia played Bellarmine Prep in a league match on May 5 at Tumwater Valley.

They’ll spend the next two weeks now preparing for the state championships, which run May 27-28.

“Any year if you get one into state it’s exceptional, but to get two is fantastic,” Olympia coach Skip Fabritius said.

No other girls team was close to Bellarmine Prep’s in the tournament. Olivia Benzin finished in first at 3-over 147, with her teammates taking the next seven spots in the standings.

Timberline’s Mikayla Blumer (170) and Stadium’s Heather Sibbett (178) were the lone girls not from Bellarmine Prep to finish in the top 10.


North Thurston’s Audrey Marlatt improved by 12 strokes from her play on Tuesday. She easily took medalist honors in the 3A Narrows League Championships with a 3-over 75 to finish at 162 for the tournament.

Capital took home both the 3A boys and 3A girls team titles.

Capital’s Naomi Yamamoto (185) took second and Mica Livingston (189) tied for third with Shelton’s Jaymie Pentony.

Capital’s Gabe Barnes (152) and Micah Nakao (159) finished second and third on the boys side behind Central Kitsap medalist Aubrey MacKenzie (144).