A handful of local teams are off to great starts to the 2023 boys’ golf season as highlighted by the results of the Oak Park Invitational at the North Ranch Country Club on Monday.
Valencia finished in a three-way tie for top of the podium but won the invitational in a back-nine card-off. The Vikings’ results on the final nine holes boosted them to victory.
Junior Taylor Cotti led Valencia and shot 76 (+5), hitting par on nearly every hole. Senior Ethan Cho registered three birdies and finished with 78 strokes, while Luke Rimkunas completed the tournament at 82.
Head coach Robert Waters is delighted with how much his players have worked over the off-season and now seeing it pay dividends in the varsity season.
“Taylor, Ethan and Luke, along with the others, have worked their tails off all off-season, playing in big junior tournaments, and really seeing success in the off-season,” Waters said in a phone interview. “We are all really excited to see it come to fruition once again this season.”
Hart’s Dylan Burcham beat out all the Vikings and finished third individually on the day, shooting 75 (+3).
Burcham was followed by Indian teammates Palmer Freeman and Kai Miyata with 82 strokes and 86 strokes, respectively. Miyata shined over the weekend, winning the VCJGA event at Olivas Links golf course with a two-day score of -1.
Indians head coach Steve Lindberg praised Burcham, knowing all of his golfers are capable of big days at any moment.
“Dylan Burcham, Kai Miyata, or Palmer Freeman can go low at any moment,” Lindberg said. “It was Dylan’s turn yesterday with a solid performance and smart play on a tough course. His course management has really improved as well as his all-around game.”
Peyton Marvin led Saugus with 86 strokes on the day.
Last season was a three-team race in the Foothill League between West Ranch, Valencia and Hart.
The big three, among most of the other teams in league, feel good about where they’re at with new talent and returning players.
The Vikings returned every starter from last year’s championship season, prompting a shout-out from a prestigious alumnus.
“We’re really fortunate to return all starters from last season,” Waters said. “The boys are excited to defend their league title. The win at North Ranch was a big deal considering it was the first win in school history at such a prestigious tournament. Max Homa even congratulated the boys, that’s how important it is.”
Waters sent his former golfer a picture of the trophy via text message, impressing Homa, as he congratulated the team.
Valencia will begin defending its league title on Tuesday, March 31, at the Oaks Club when the teams meet for the opening round of Foothill League play.