Bruins take shot at league 3-peat
When Bear River shot 57 strokes better than Pioneer Valley League rival Mesa Verde earlier this week, the Bruins displayed once again the dominance they’ve shown in the three year history of PVL varsity boys golf.
Bear River has never dropped a dual match to a PVL opponent, including the Bruins 4-0 start to the 2005 campaign. That’s 28-straight league victories and two consecutive championship seasons.
Three in a row, though, might be tough to come by.
“We’re not as strong as the last two years,” said Gayne Nakano, Bear River’s head coach, “but our scores are getting better every match. As long as we continue on that path, by the end of the season we’ll be right there with the other teams.”
One of those teams Nakano expects to be “there” is rival Colfax. The Falcons, Nakano said, make up a talented team that is young enough to give the Bruins trouble for at least the next two years.
“We’ve not lost (in league) yet, but we’ve got a big match coming up Thursday,” said Nakano (See “Local Roundup,” Page B3). “Colfax is very good. They are even younger than us. They have like one junior, four sophomores and a freshman.”
Bear River’s roster looks similar with a trio of sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup, but the Bruins are also bolstered by a pair of returning seniors. Luke DePass and Ryan Ursiny were each members of the Bruin team that finished fifth in the subsection meet last spring.
Joining those seniors are sophomores Eric Brown, Tyler Chicourrat and Nick Honey and freshman Nial Conn. Those four might be underclassmen, but they’ve wasted little time showing they belong at the varsity level. Conn, for example, earned medalist honors with a one-over-par round of 36 in the PVL win over Mesa Verde Tuesday at Lake of the Pines.
“This year, really, we’re just focused on trying to win the league,” Nakano said. “The last two years we were pretty sure we could. This year it’s kind of up in the air.”
Forest Lake Christian
If Forest Lake Christian expects to climb past perennial Central Valley Christian League powerhouses Woodland Christian and Faith Christian, FLC head coach Joel Meisenheimer says the fact the Falcons appear to be better than last year might not be enough.
“Most of the people we had last year are back,” said Meisenheimer. “I think we’re better than we were last year, but I don’t know if we are better than the other top two teams in the league, Woodland Christian and Faith Christian.”
The Falcons return four of the six golfers from their 2004 varsity lineup, which finished third in the CVCL after posting an 8-4 record and qualified for the small school subsection.
Two of the returning lettermen include two seniors, Jeff Pulliam and Ian Shore. Also back are sophomores Peter Burton and Jason Pulliam.
Newcomers to the FLC lineup include sophomore Matt Rosense and freshman Jeremy Brown.
“Maybe we can surprise one of the top two teams,” Meisenheimer said. “But I think our guys will have to play their best game to beat those two teams we lost to last year.”
The Miners might have put themselves behind the eight ball after Monday’s Metro Conference meet in Marysville, the first stop in a series of four 18-hole tournaments played amongst the league’s teams, but Nevada Union’s not about to give up on a potential postseason berth.
“Our goal is to finish first or second in the league to qualify for the subsection tourney,” said NU head Hank Davidson.
To achieve that, the Miners must finish first or second in the Metro, something which became a much tougher task after NU placed fourth at Peach Tree Country Club Monday. But it wasn’t just the placing that hurt NU most, it was the fact that the Miners finished more than 40 strokes back of Yuba City and Granite Bay.
“That’s a lot of ground to make up,” Davidson said, “but anything’s possible.”
The Miners are led by senior Erik Flores, a three-time American Junior Golf Association All-American who will tee off for the UCLA Bruins next year. Flores took last spring’s high school season off, electing to compete in AJGA tour stops and other junior golf tournaments on the West Coast and national scenes.
Flores finished fourth in Monday’s meet and will be counted on to continue posting high finishes if NU is to climb back into contention for the postseason.
NU also returns sophomore D.J. Milligan, the lone Miner to return from Nevada Union’s 2004 varsity squad.
Newcomers to the varsity include seniors Justin Johnson and Cole Voors, along with sophomores Gavin Butcher and Andrew Grizzell.
“We’re old, but we’re young,” Davidson said. “We’ve got three seniors and three sophomores. So we have some high hopes riding on that senior leadership.
“We’ve got 45 strokes to make up and three tournaments to go, so it would be awful hard for us to (finish first or second in the Metro), but, as I said, ‘anything’s possible.'”
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.