West Ranch High’s journey toward another Foothill League title hit a bump in the road in Tuesday afternoon’s Foothill League match, the third of the season, at El Cariso Golf Course in Sylmar.
The Wildcats tied for first place with Valencia High with a team score of 179. In third was Golden Valley High at 193 and in fourth was Hart High, which had its first CIF-qualifying score of the year at 206.
The Vikings faced a 15-stroke deficit for first place the second league match, and an 18-point difference at the first.
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“As a team sport, I see we’re very solid across the board. I’m looking forward to everything going forward this year,” said Valencia coach John Minkus.
“You have to score (well individually) and if my players come out and play consistent and play the way they can play, then we’ll challenge.”
The Vikings’ biggest obstacle at the moment is eliminating mistakes and penalty strokes that can drive scores up on individual holes.
“We spoke about it in the van on the ride to the course, and I said, ‘You can’t be a hero in golf. If you make a mistake, you have to get yourself back in position.’ If you look at my two 33 scores and two 35 scores, they didn’t make huge mistakes,” Minkus said.
West Ranch’s Noelle Song was the top individual golfer of the day, edging all competitors with a 2-under 29, down from her previous score of 1-over 32 in last week’s league match.
“(Winning) meant a lot because it just shows that people, no matter how soon they began or how late they started golfing, if they put in a lot of hard work, they can play their best and make a lot of progress,” Song said.
Song, a sophomore, is a late bloomer herself when it comes to competitive golf, beginning just two and a half years ago.
“It’s been a really great experience,” she said. “I’m glad to be with such a fun and loving team. I can’t wait to continue golf and try my best throughout this league and just do well.”
Behind Song, there was a three-way tie for second place betwee
n West Ranch’s Ashley Mayhall and Mack Bailey and Golden Valley’s Justine Reblando — each finished even par. Hart’s Paige Heuer came in fifth place with a 1-over 32, her best score of the year.
This is the first league match of the year in which neither Bailey nor Mayhall was the medalist.
“Overall I think all of the teams are maturing and the scores today were quite solid,” Minkus said. “We’re seeing different players really elevating their game.”
Saugus finished fifth at 213, and Canyon ended up sixth at 218.
The next league match is scheduled for Sept. 27 at Elkins Ranch.
“The competition is starting to heat up a little, but that just means it pushes everyone to try harder and really do their best,” Song said. “Everyone is trying to get the top spot. It just pushes everyone.”