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The year of the girls golfer

The Foothill League will trot out the most talented group in its history with Hart leading the way

Posted: September 21, 2009 10:49 p.m.
Updated: September 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
This is it — the most talented bunch of girls golfers the Foothill League has ever seen.

Saugus girls head coach David Stradling said there are 10 girls who could legitimately compete for an individual CIF playoff spot.

One coach said Hart has seven girls who could play golf at the university level.

And then there’s Valencia’s Alison Lee — the most accomplished incoming freshman in the 11-year history of Foothill League girls golf.

“The level is higher, this time, than ever,” said Valencia head coach Andy Raevouri, now in his 11th season. “I don’t know if we can maintain this level because it’s exceptional. It’s quite remarkable. We look forward to the postseason to see what our girls can do.”

There are reasons why 2009 is the year when the best talent has converged, theorized Stradling.

He said more athletes are focusing on one sport. Girls are liking golf more. And, he added, girls seem to pick up the game faster, though he’s not sure why.

So individual play will be at its best this season.

Last year, Hart’s Amanda Corr set the course record for Vista Valencia Golf Course with her nine-hole 29.

Can that be beaten?

More importantly, can Hart be beaten?

With its solid core of All-Santa Clarita Valley Girls Golfer of the Year Corr, Foothill MVP Kendall Dusenberry, Nikki Prichard and Brenna Carlson, as one coach put it, the van would have to break down in order for the Indians to lose.

Yet they have competition.

Saugus is steady and experienced.

The Centurions graduated their top golfer from last year in Tiara Wells, yet they return five girls.

Sophie Valentine, Nicole DeFrancisco and Catherine Walgamuth will all now have at least three years of varsity experience apiece.

But it’s not just their experience that will make them a threat to the Indians.

It’s the fact that all three are solid on the golf course.

“They’re so talented it will be hard for us to catch them,” Stradling said of the Indians. “My goal is to be close to them. Could we beat them over one match? Maybe. Can we beat them in league? No.”

Stradling said senior Hannah Belanger, an improved second-year varsity player, will be a key for his team.

If she puts up good scores, Saugus could have a stranglehold on second place.

The competition for the three CIF team playoff spots will be between Hart, Saugus, Valencia and West Ranch.

Valencia’s hopes don’t ride on Lee, the seventh-ranked junior golfer in the United States according to the American Junior Golf Association’s Polo Rankings.

They ride on the rest of the team.

“We’ll see what the rest of the girls can do,” Raevouri said. “The other girls are up and down. They’re still learning the game.”

Yet Valencia does have five returners on varsity as well, led by senior Katya Ortiz.

West Ranch head coach Jeff Holen said his girls don’t have the golf experience that many others in the league have, having not played summer individual junior tournaments.

The Wildcats lost Sarah Kang, who made CIF individuals as a junior but missed making the postseason by a couple of strokes last season, due to graduation.

They have a couple of girls that could step in as the team’s top golfer in senior Diane Kim and sophomore Jackie Kang.

“If we can sneak into the third spot, I’d be happy,” Holen said.

Canyon’s program is almost completely rebuilt.

Taggart Lee, who has been teaching at the school for seven years, is now the girls and boys head golf coach.

Lee said he has been a casual golfer since elementary school.

Two freshmen are competing for the top spots in the team’s lineup — long-hitting Amanda Toshimitsu and Annalise Mendoza, who Lee said has a solid all-around game.

“We’re just working on hitting and bringing our scores into a competitive range,” Lee said. “We don’t have any big, lofty goals. We’d like to do something with Canyon golf and make it competitive in the valley. The only way to do that is make it fun and get out there and work at it.”

Similarly, Golden Valley is also battling to be competitive.

The Grizzlies are also led by youth, with freshmen Amanda Hobbs, Kaitlyn Thayer and Susan Kang.

“The goal for us this year is to remove the gap between us and the middle of the pack,” said head coach Tony Moskal. “Nobody’s going to catch Hart, but for us, I want us to close the gap between the third- and fourth-place teams.”

As for Hart, a question that is now lingering for the second straight season is: Can the Indians compete for a state championship?

They added freshman Jamie Corr, Amanda’s sister, and junior Krista McMullen took a giant leap forward this summer, said 11th-year head coach Renee Onori.

Carlson is outdriving everyone on the team.

Amanda Corr is extremely competitive.

Prichard has remained consistent.

And Dusenberry added junior tournament experience this summer.

Onori took the safe route on the question.

“I don’t know. I don’t have any idea,” she said.

But in the supposed year of the Foothill League girls golfer, a state title or state title appearance would remove the supposed and make that a fact.


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