It’s only Allison Hwang’s second year of varsity golf, but her freshman year with West Ranch quickly taught her the importance of winning the Foothill League title.
She learned the hard way, though, as Valencia took the league crown, beating the Wildcats 1,104 to 1,109 in the final team standings.
“One word I would describe (us) would be very motivated to beat Valencia and shoot our personal best scores,” Hwang said.
The Vikings disrupted West Ranch’s four-year title-winning streak last season, and the competition could be close again this season. Valencia returns all of their players, including Ashley Song, who was last year’s individual runner-up.
“She’s really composed and it’s really fun to just play with her,” said Valencia senior Jackie Rendall of Song. “She definitely doesn’t have that competitive aggressiveness. It’s never anything too uptight with her.”
Sung Park, who transferred into Valencia last season, will also be returning. Park finished fourth in the individual standings and was medalist in the fourth league meet of the season.
According to Rendall, the Vikes don’t feel pressure to perform, but would still like to repeat at the Foothill League champions.
“To win league would be a nice thing, but really all of us just want to put our best scores forward and to personally do as well as we can,” Rendall said. “Not only is golf a team sport but it is an individual sport so we want to improve upon our scores last year and it’ll be good to bring home a league title again.”
West Ranch lost last season’s individual title winner Noelle Song, but welcomes two talented freshmen to the roster in Eunice Yi and Brielle Sorenson, the former of which is currently No. 1 in the Wildcats’ lineup and could be Song’s competition for the league title this year.
The Wildcats have four returners, including Hwang and Kati Pak, two quietly competitive golfers who have assumed leadership roles this season.
“I know their game will speak for itself in the long run,” said West Ranch coach Jeff Holen of the two. “I see them not being affected by the team aspect because they do play tournament golf, so hopefully they continue to play that tournament golf and enjoy the game.”
Holen said he’s pleased with Hwang’s competitive spirit, which has increased ahead of this league season.
“Allison is a fighter, she’s the one that’s going to be vocal,” Holen said. “She has stepped up her game over the summer.”
Hwang said that she worked on her chipping and putting throughout the offseason and is focused on saving strokes this season. She thinks that Pak, who is a calm presence on the course, complements her playing style well.
“Whenever I don’t feel very confident when I play, she always lifts up my spirts and she always gives me encouragement,” Hwang said. “She’s a senior, so I’m really sad that she’s going to leave after this year.”
Among the other top Foothill League returners this season are Meghan Silver (Hart) and Jasmine Reblando (Golden Valley).
Silver finished fifth in last season’s individual standings and tied for third in the first league meet and second in the third meet. Reblando will be back for her junior season after placing sixth and tying for runner-up in two meets in 2018.
The first Foothill League meet of the season is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. today at Vista Valencia Golf Course.