Canyons women’s golf capture third state title in program history

The College of the Canyons women's golf team shot a combined score of 615 in the two-day championship tournament at Morro Bay Golf Course in Morro Bay, Calif. Courtesy Photo

The College of the Canyons women’s golf team took home the state title on Monday, winning by 18 strokes and a final score of 615 in the two-day, 36-hole event at Morro Bay Golf Course in Morro Bay, Calif.

Canyons shot a team score of 309 on the first day, carrying a 16-stroke lead into the final round of the 2018 California Community College Athletic Association women’s golf state championship.

The Cougars shot 306 as a team on Monday, two strokes better than runner-up College of the Desert, which finished with a total score of 633.

“When the season started I knew we had a very talented team,” said Canyons head coach Gary Peterson. “Things can go wrong and goals aren’t achieved, but they really stuck to the path. We played well all year and peaked at the right time. I’m extremely proud.”

Peterson attributed his team’s success to the hard work his players have put in all season.

Even with a sizeable advantage after the first day of the championship tournament, his team continued to put in the extra work to make sure they would come out on top.

“Doing what we did all year, making sure we work hard but we also have a lot of fun,” Peterson said. “After the first round we had a casual buffet and afterwards all the other teams went to the hotel, but we went and putted for 45 minutes to an hour to work on our putting stroke. There wasn’t one bit of grumbling within the crew. They all said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’”

Canyons was led by freshman Haruka Koda, who shot a total of 143 (72, 71) and finished in second-place individually. Freshman Jessie Lin finished with a score of 154 (75, 79) as did sophomore JoJo Roecker (77, 77). They finished in seventh and eighth place, respectively.

Koda, who hails from Miyoshi City, Japan, was directed to COC by her uncle Jonas Crawford, who is the athletic director at Oxnard College and a longtime friend of Peterson’s.

“When (Crawford) knew that Haruka wanted to come to the U.S. to play golf I felt very happy that he contacted me and said, ‘We want to send her to College of the Canyons,’” Peterson said. “To have someone recommend their family member to play at Canyons, that’s a high point for me.

“I feel very grateful and it’s quite a compliment. It’s special to have Haruka on this team. She is such a talented golfer.”

Freshman Shabana Poswal, a Canyon alumnus, finished with a score of 166 (86, 80). Freshman Paige Heuer, who played her prep golf at Hart, totaled a score of 169 (90, 79). Sophomore Gina Chung rounded out the team with a score of 171 (85, 86).

The championship marks the third title for the Canyons women’s golf program, having previously won in 2001 and 2007.

Despite the success Peterson has had coaching COC’s women’s and men’s golf teams, back-to-back championships have eluded him in his 35-plus years of coaching.

With six players returning next year, including Koda, Peterson believes his team has a great chance to make history next season.

“We lose two girls (Chung and Roecker), but the nucleus of this team is going to come back and they are already really excited about playing again and trying to repeat,” Peterson said. “I’ve never been able to win back-to-back championships. That remains a goal of mine.”

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