Hart and West Ranch boys golf ready to battle it out in league play

West Ranch's Gunnar Murray watches his drive after teeing off at the first hole of the final Foothill League boys golf meet at The Players Club Valencia on April 27, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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Returning a full roster from last season and carrying the title of Foothill League team champion into this season, Hart boys golf has one thought on its mind:

“You need to be humble,” said Indians senior Art Thompson.

Hart isn’t getting carried away with their potential success yet, since in the opposite corner sits a West Ranch team that is also returning the bulk of its lineup and itching for a league title.

“We did win last year, so they just want to beat us this year more than they did last year, so everything will be intensified,” said Thompson.

The Wildcats return Gunnar Murray, who earned the individual Foothill League title last season, in addition to Favian Busnawi and Jack Dudeck.

MORE: Hart boys golf wins Coyote Invitational title

Ben Valdez, a freshman, has also cracked the lineup for this season.

“I think he’ll be our secret weapon coming up in the league matches,” Murray said of Valdez. “He’s a fourth or fifth guy that needs to come in the mid-70s.”

The Indians have some consistent shooters as well. Jess Scheller finished with a No. 2 ranking in league last season with Thompson behind him in the No. 3 spot.

The group took home the Coyote Invitational title on March 12, and then followed up with the Oak Park Invitational title on Monday. Thompson was the No. 2 golfer individually in the latter tournament, carding a 1-over 72.

Thompson, Scheller and Jason Yoo have been on varsity all four years together, adding extra chemistry to the group.

“For us right now, it’s like winning with family,” said Thompson. “It’s like having brothers going through these four years playing with them.”

Murray knows that his role as the league champion incumbent is one he’ll have to work hard to protect. He’s been practicing 30-35 hours each week in his efforts to hold the spot.

“I was No. 1 in the league last year so it’s hard to beat that,” he said, “but I want to get my scoring average as low as possible and hopefully win CIF for individual.”

Murray added that he’d like to see his team appear in the CIF playoffs, a goal that’s shared with Hart.

The first Foothill League meet of the season is today at noon at Sand Canyon Country Club. There’s rain in the forecast, which could bring an added element to an already intense day of competition.

“It’s going to be a good challenge,” said Murray.

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