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Record-Breaking Feats & Intense Rivalries – 2023 Discraft’s Cascade Challenge Recap

By Nick Quargnenti
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Kat Mertsch & Ricky Wysocki Dialed In at the 2023 Cascade Challenge in Shelton, WA Photo: DGPT

The Discraft Cascade Challenge at the Shelton Springs disc golf course in Shelton, WA, concluded another thrilling chapter of the 2023 Disc Golf Pro Tour. The event showcased a weekend filled with electrifying disc golf action that left both players and fans feeling exhilarated.

The title of 2023 Cascade Challenge champion goes to Ricky Wysocki (PDGA# 38008) in the MPO division and Kat Mertsch (PDGA# 99455) in the FPO division. Both players demonstrated remarkable skill and determination throughout the event, respectively securing their 1st and 2nd victories of the season.

This Silver Event matched an impressive feat… 3 aces (all in MPO)! The last Silver Event with 3 aces was the 2022 Beaver State Fling. Here are the players who found chains off the tee this weekend:

Kat Mertsch Celebrates Her 1st Silver Event Victory, and 2nd win of the year at the 2023 Cascade Challenge in Shelton, WA Photo: DGPT

Kat Mertsch Continues to Shine!

With her latest triumph at the Cascade Challenge, Kat Mertsch has now sealed her 1st Silver Event victory and 2nd win of the 2023 season. The 1st-place trophy from the Cascade Challenge proudly joins her Jonesboro Open trophy, showcasing her exceptional consistency and skill in this year’s events.

Following the 1st round, Mertsch skillfully maneuvered her way to the lead card, where she would remain for the duration of the tournament. Her dedication was on full display during the final round as she shot the hot round of the tournament finishing with an impressive 5 under par for the round. This remarkable performance not only granted her a 3-stroke lead but also solidified her winning total score of -11.

Sai Ananda (PDGA# 58303) showcased her resilience throughout the weekend during her battle with Mertsch. She shot the hot round on Moving Day (-4) and entered Championship Sunday with a 1-stroke lead. During the final round, Mertsch quickly took control, but it went back and forth down the stretch and the competitors found themselves tied after the 10th hole. The players remained tied through 11 holes and the 12th would prove consequential, Ananda carded bogey and Mertsch birdie. After the 2 stroke swing, Mertsch never looked back.

Ananda ultimately secured a commendable solo 2nd place finish at 8 under par for the tournament. According to UDisc, Ananda claimed the top spot in Fairway Hits percentage with an impressive 83% success rate. Additionally, Ananda showcased remarkable accuracy by leading in Circle 1 in Regulation (39%) AND Circle 2 in Regulation (70%), reflecting her skill and precision on the course throughout the event.

For the 2nd week in a row, the competition in the FPO division unfolded as a captivating duel for 1st and 2nd place, with the top competitors securing a notable lead over the rest of the field. The margin between the top 2 positions remained significant throughout the weekend, creating a thrilling mono-e-mono contest. There was a 4-stroke gap between the scores of the 2nd and 3rd place contenders, emphasizing the dominance of the frontrunners.

Sai Ananda Securing Solo-2nd Place at the 2023 Cascade Challenge in Shelton, WA Photo: DGPT

The battle for 3rd place and final podium finish was fought diligently between Holyn Handley (PDGA# 133547), Maria Oliva (PDGA# 63257), and Lisa Fajkus (PDGA# 32654). The trio ended up sharing the podium with tied scores of 4 under par for the tournament. Adding to their remarkable achievements, Handley and Oliva secured podium finishes for the 2nd consecutive week (Beaver State Fling). Their back-to-back success is truly impressive, demonstrating their ability to perform at a high level consistently.

Holyn Handley & Maria Oliva at the 2023 Cascade Challenge in Shelton, WA Photo: DGPT

Oliva earned the 2nd-best rating in Fairway Hits percentage at 80% after Ananda, according to UDisc.

According to StatMando, Handley is sitting in 2nd overall in best total score to par this season at -85 through 10 events, sitting behind Kristin Tattar (PDGA# 73986) at -101 through 7 events.

Wysocki Celebrates His 1st Win of the Season at the 2023 Cascade Challenge in Shelton, WA Photo: DGPT

Wysocki Returns to the Winner’s Circle!

Tension ran high in the MPO field during the inaugural edition of the Cascade Challenge, after 2 days of play it felt like yet another event where anyone could win. Heading into the final round, Ricky Wysocki was sitting in 2nd place, 2 strokes behind a red-hot James Conrad (PDGA# 17295), but a strong finish would secure him his 1st win of the season, and his 1st win after returning from a Lyme disease flare-up which had kept him out of multiple events at the start of the year.

Conrad had a Friday to remember. He opened the tournament with an astonishing 14 under-par round. This incredible performance clearly ranks among the hottest of the season and comes off the heels of his historic 17 under-par 2nd round during the Jonesboro Open. After the 1st round Conrad cooled off, combing for just 11 under par through the final 2 round of play. In the end, Conrad would secure a solo-4th place finish while leading the field in Birdie percentage (59%) and Fairway Hits (80%) according to UDisc.

With just a few holes left for Wysocki and the rest of the lead card in the final round, Matt Bell (PDGA# 48950) was in the clubhouse with an impressive score of 26 under par. Bell showcased remarkable skill and tenacity as he navigated his way to a podium finish from the 4th card. With a scorching score of 12 under par, Bell claimed the 2nd hottest round of the tournament, behind only Conrad’s 14 under in the opening round.

Matching Bell’s outstanding performance, was 17-year-old Evan Scott (PDGA# 89394). Scott emerged as a force to be reckoned with, finishing tied for 2nd place with an impressive score of 26 under par. This is Scott’s 1st podium finish on the DGPT, he started competing on the Pro Tour in 2022 and has one other top-10 finish (the 2022 Beaver State Fling).

Evan Scott & Ricky Wysocki Celebrate the Conclusion of the 2023 Cascade Challenge Photo: DGPT

Behind the tie for 2nd place was a tie for 5th place at 23 under par held by Eagle McMahon (PDGA# 37817), Anthony Barela (PDGA# 44382), and Joona Heinänen (PDGA# 58926).

Anthony Barela & Eagle McMahon at the 2023 Cascade Challenge in Shelton, WA Photo: DGPT

Despite the dominant performance from Conrad, Bell, Scott (and several others), Wysocki emerged as the triumphant victor, delivering an impressive score of 29 under par and leading the MPO field in Parked percentage (20%), Circle 1 Putts in Regulation (56%), and Circle 2 Putts in Regulation (76%) according to UDisc. This outstanding performance not only showcased his unwavering determination but also marked his highly anticipated and well-deserved 1st win of the 2023 season.

In his post-round interview, Wysocki confirmed that the raptor legs are back!

The Disc Golf Pro Tour resumes on June 1-4 at the renowned Portland Open.

Article written by: Nick Quargnenti – DGPT Marketing Coordinator