By Ryan Menzie
For The Signal
The West Ranch Wildcats finished atop the Foothill League, going undefeated in league play with four players going to college on scholarship.
Despite it being an unusual first season in CIF Southern Section Division 1 play, West Ranch head coach Jeff Holen was proud of the team’s play, which was good enough for fifth-place for the entire division, just six strokes out of second place, he said. The Wildcats also had four of their players finish in the top-six in the league.
“Across the board, I consider it West Ranch’s best season ever in the sense of what we could’ve done,” said Holen. “We go into next year as the rebuilding year. Next year, their takeaway is to step up the game across the board. We didn’t get to play in the spring of 2020, so let’s make this our best year ever and enjoy the walk.”
The players of the year, the top-two players in the league, both belonged to the Wildcats. Senior Nick Fowlkes finished with a 367, his best score after six 18-hole rounds. He was followed by senior Ben Valdez finishing with 368. Valdez will look to a career at Naval Academy.
Senior Dylan Horowitz finished third in the league with a 376 on the season. Horowitz is grateful he got to compete in his last year in high school and plans to continue his golf career at Chapman University.
Matt Monheim finished with a 379, rounding out the top four players in the Foothill League from West Ranch. Monheim will also look to continue his career on scholarship at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Coming up in second place for the Foothill League is the Valencia Vikings who were led by head coach Robby Waters. Waters has been the boys head coach since 2009, but knew this group was special from the start of the season. The adversity the team faced and finishing strong at the end of the season is the prime example Waters saw for how hard the team has worked all season.
“Going into the final league match, we were down by seven strokes to Hart. We wound up defeating Hart by 17 strokes in the final week,” said Waters. “Not knowing at that point, but it turned out to be a huge victory. We finished strong, shot the lowest team score in the matchup of the league season. The boys got better as the season went on which is a testament to how hard they worked especially under pressure.”
Senior Ricky Reisner and freshman Ethan Cho finished in ninth and 10th in the entire league for individual scoring. Reisner finished with a score of 397 on the season and is planning on playing at College of the Canyons, according to Waters. Cho will be back playing golf next season for Waters as a sophomore as they look to make a strong push for the league title.
The Hart Indians finished out the top-three schools in the Foothill League. The young Indians team had no seniors on the team and head coach Steve Lindberg plans to have his entire team returning next season. Lindberg is hopeful from all the experience gained this season from these players will translate in obtaining the league title next season.
“Looking back on this short season. It was very promising with all of the young players getting match and tournament experience and overall playing very well,” said Lindberg. “Going forward into next season we’re hoping to compete for a league championship.”
The Indians were led by fifth and sixth place individual finishes by sophomore Palmer Freeman and freshman Dylan Burcham. Freeman finished with a final score of 379 with Burcham following right behind him with a final score of 384. Freeman went further than anyone in the Foothill League, going through all three rounds of the Southern California State Championships.
“It was a different year from normal. We were still able to have some league matchups this year although, unfortunately, we didn’t make the CIF playoffs,” said Freeman. “With all that, my biggest takeaway is to never regret anything with your team. If you have an opportunity to be with your team you should take it and enjoy it. Value your time as a team. You never know what can happen.”
“The boys did well with fresh talent and we finished strong in the final event,” said head coach Rich Gutierrez. “I was really happy to see them get out there. To get there and see the kids on the course was nice to see, especially seeing them have relationships and camaraderie with their friends. I always told them to not focus on the negative things with golf.”
Sophomore Christian Rickett finished second on the team in total scoring. Despite being his first year on the golf team, Rickett is happy with the experiences he gained and is planning on playing for the golf team again next season.
“Our season went well considering the COVID situation,” said Rickett. “The officials made everything safe and fun. Being my first year on the team I really got to see how the family worked. I feel like all the friendships I made this year will carry over into next season. Learning more about golf and how everything works and I hope some restrictions will be lifted which will make the season better.”
Golden Valley and Canyon
Both the Grizzlies and the Cowboys were unable to qualify for scores due to not having enough players on the team due to COVID.