GOLF: Kentwood's Hagen back in the swing

In a matter of seconds, Kent Hagen’s foot and heart were broken during a pick-up basketball game in January. Luckily, the Kentwood High golfer’s swing – and hope – remained very much intact. So much so, in fact, that Hagen will be doing more than just competing in this week's Class 4A state tournament at Kennewick’s Canyon Lakes Golf Course just five months after breaking his foot.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Wednesday, May 26, 2010 7:46pm
  • Sports
Kentwood High golfer Kent Hagen broke his foot in January and was forced to miss the baseball season. One of the top pitchers in the SPSL North

Kentwood High golfer Kent Hagen broke his foot in January and was forced to miss the baseball season. One of the top pitchers in the SPSL North

In a matter of seconds, Kent Hagen’s foot and heart were broken during a pick-up basketball game in January.

Luckily, the Kentwood High golfer’s swing – and hope – remained very much intact. So much so, in fact, that Hagen will be doing more than just competing in this week's Class 4A state tournament at Kennewick’s Canyon Lakes Golf Course just five months after breaking his foot.

He’ll be a legitimate contender.

It’s a position that was in doubt in January, when Hagen broke his right foot while attempting to “swat the shot” of an opponent.

“Unfortunately, when I went up to block the shot, it threw me off balance,” Hagen explained. “I landed straight up on my right foot. I heard a big pop, and then was in the most pain I had ever been in. The first thing I thought was, ‘Oh no, I have the Chambers Bay tournament this weekend.’ ”

Hagen was in no shape for that tournament. In fact, the injury was a bit more severe than Hagen or his dad Kevin, who is the team’s coach, originally had thought.

“When the school called me, I went down there thinking he had twisted it and it was no big deal,” Kevin Hagen said. “We ran him in and had some X-rays taken just to make sure, and the tech came out and said, ‘You made a mess of your ankle. Within a week Kent was in for surgery.”

That surgery included having a metal plate and eight screws inserted into the 18-year-old’s right foot. It also wiped out Hagen’s baseball season, which proved devastating. A right-handed pitcher who possesses impeccable control and good velocity, Hagen posted the lowest earned run average last season (0.28) in the history of the South Puget Sound League, records that date back to the mid-1980s.

Hagen was hoping for an encore this season, where he would have been an integral part of Kentwood's pitching staff.

Instead, all he received was time off.

“The first question I asked the doctor was, ‘How will this affect the baseball season?’” said Hagen, who posted a 6-0 record last season, which is the third-best mark in SPSL history. “Right away, he said, ‘You aren’t playing.’

“It was hard to take, especially considering I knew this would have been my last year.”

Sports always have been something that has brought Kent and Kevin Hagen together. In fact, Kent credits his father, who played professionally for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1983 and 1984, as a big reason for his record-setting performance last spring.

Losing the final baseball season of his life was a bitter pill to swallow.

“I know I am not going to play at college, so I just wanted to go out and enjoy my final year,” Kent said.

It was just as hard on Dad.

“With my baseball background, it was very sad,” said Kevin, a right-handed pitcher who posted a 3-2 record and 4.25 ERA in parts of two major league seasons. “Knowing that it was probably going to be his last opportunity to play competitive baseball before he focuses on college, it was heartbreaking.”

Heartbreak, however, has slowly turned into opportunity for Kent Hagen, who will be playing in his fourth state golf tournament this week.

While on the mend, there was little Hagen could do athletically. In fact, of all the sports, golf is the only one that allowed Hagen to return in a relatively timely fashion.

“This is really the only sport I would have been able to get back into,” he said.

“Technically, I am not supposed to run for six months. The first thing I could do was putt and chip, which was my weakness. I think this injury could have been good for my (golf) game.”

The Conquerors certainly hope so. Because while Kentwood has put one of the state’s top baseball teams on the diamond, it also possesses one of the state’s elite golf programs. Kentwood won its third straight district crown in the fall and is sending a school-record four golfers (Hagen, Thomas Zavada, Riley Kuranishi and Danny Peterson) to the state tournament.

Hagen and Zavada both could vie for the individual title while the Conquerors have a legitimate shot at taking the team crown as well.

“All four of us are capable of shooting even or around par,” Hagen said. “I feel me and Tom are playing really good right now and either one of us could take it.”

And if that were to happen, Hagen concedes, it would be the perfect cure to a broken heart – and a broken foot.


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