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West Ranch starts strong

Pair of sophomores lead Wildcats to early victory

Posted: March 25, 2009 1:48 a.m.
Updated: March 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Valencia's Jonathan Chang prepares to put on the sixth green at the Valencia Country Club Tuesday. The Vikings finished second to begin league play.

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J.J., yes.

C.J., no.

It was certainly in the realm of possibility that West Ranch sophomore golfer J.J. Holen would shoot the low-round in the first Foothill League match and lead his team to a victory.

But for C.J. Espino, a 5-foot-3-inch, 105-pound sophomore to stand right with the 6-footer and also lead the Wildcats to victory, that would be a surprise.

It happened Tuesday as Holen and Espino both shot 74s on the par-72 Valencia Country Club course, as the Wildcats shot a Foothill League-leading 388.

Valencia was second at 402.

“Got to depend on the short game,” Espino said of his ability to go out and shoot low.

Despite playing the course for the first time, he putted only 24 times.

Espino got off to a hot start, shooting a 35 on the front nine.

Holen did the same on the back nine.

“It’s supposed to be close this year and having us not play as well as we could today and still win by (14 strokes), it means we’re No. 1 in league (to start the season) and ready to keep going,” Holen said.

Espino was a major difference for the Wildcats Tuesday because expectations from his head coach Jeff Holen were for him to shoot in the 80s.

But Clayton Thatch was another difference maker for West Ranch as he provided the day’s third-best score at 76.

Valencia was very consistent Tuesday with five scores ranging from 79 to 83.

Max Homa and Alex Macaluso shot 79s.

But West Ranch’s top three scorers were exactly 14 strokes better than Valencia’s.

Hart wasn’t too far off from Valencia.

The Indians shot a 413, far out-distancing fourth place Saugus, which shot 441.

Tanner Diaz was the Indians’ top golfer with a 78.

Saugus was led by Andrew Moore with an 83.

Canyon shot a 443 with Justin Golden leading the Cowboys at 80.

Austin Wolitarsky led Golden Valley with a 90, but the Grizzlies didn’t qualify for a place in the first match because they didn’t have enough golfers compete.

cosborne@the-signal.com

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