Just one stroke separated the victorious West Ranch Wildcat boys’ golf and the Valencia Vikings on Tuesday at Sand Canyon Country Club.
The Wildcats won the fifth Foothill League match of the season with a team score of 383 strokes, just edging by Valencia and beating the Hart Indians, who finished at 392.
West Ranch senior Tommy Wilson co-medaled with Valencia’s Luke Rimkunas after each finished with 73 strokes (+1). Rimkunas earned his second consecutive medal for the Vikes while Wilson became the third Wildcat golfer to medal this season.
Max Singer and Sean Bramen both finished with 76-stroke days while William Kei trailed with 77.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Cats coach Jeff Holen said in a phone interview. “Then you know your whole team has the ability to put up a good number. Knowing any of your guys can come up and produce is great. Going under 75 would be a great way to finish out the season.”
West Ranch, Valencia and Hart all boasted four golfers going under 80 strokes but the league championship could come down to just a one-stroke difference.
Valencia’s Jay Wrage finished with 76 strokes, with Taylor Cotti (+5) and Jack Wilson (+6) just behind.
Hart was led by Dylan Burcham (+3) with Nathan Ekins and Kai Miyata right behind him with 76 strokes (+4).
This was the third consecutive league match at Sand Canyon, where Rimkunas was able to display his comfort with the course.
“Once again, Luke showed great maturity and poise,” Valencia coach Robert Waters said via email. “He was three-over through 14 yesterday and finished strong on the swing holes, going birdie, par and birdie. It’s great to see and his teammates are fired up for him.”
Logan Mangarin led Saugus with 77 strokes, for the Centurions’ best finish of the year.
Castaic’s Charles Bailey jumped back into the individual playoff race and finished with 78 strokes on Tuesday.
The coaches agree this is the closest the stroke totals have been during their long tenures. The Foothill League championship and MVP title may come down to just a few strokes.
“This is the closest race for the title that I have witnessed in my 14 years as the coach,” Waters said. “The equal level of competition makes it unique and very exciting. The boys are pumped to be in this position and are eager to get back out there Monday at The Oaks Club.”
Valencia took a seven-stroke lead with just one league match left on the year. The Vikings’ high-out total score currently sits at 1562, with Hart and West Ranch right behind at 1569.
It all comes down to Monday, when any of the three top teams can pull away and clinch a league championship.
West Ranch’s Kei will be one of several key golfers out on Monday as the team’s schedules conflict with AP testing. Holen, like most coaches, will always prioritize academics and still believes Kei can finish as league MVP. Kei is just three strokes behind Hart’s Miyata on the season and with every player’s worst performance being a throw-out, anything is possible.
“What I like about my team is that they take on my philosophy and just go out and play the best they can,” Holen said. “We don’t do highs or lows, we just keep on going. So we’re not too amped, there’s enough stress in life. I just want these guys to have fun. They get to play high school golf. I just want them to enjoy the walk.”
The Foothill League golf season finale will be Monday at the Oaks Club at Valencia with the first groups teeing off at noon.