Young talent story of golf season
Weather better suited for skiing or swimming has obviously been the big news around the golf community so far in March.
Snow and rain have certainly have been a factor to the three area high school programs that have had practice and playing schedules interrupted for the better part of this month.
“It’s been crazy,” Nevada Union coach Hank Davidson said. “It’s very difficult to keep the interest up, but hey, we have to deal with it. And we will.”
The good news is that Nevada Union, Forest Lake Christian and Bear River all feature young and talented rosters that show a lot of promise for the future.
Forest Lake Christian
With an ample supply of young talent, the future looks bright for Forest Lake Christian and the present looks pretty good, especially after opening its Central Valley Christian League season with five straight victories. The latest was a 230-329 win Tuesday on their home course at DarkHorse Golf Club.
Of more significance, freshman Ryan Stockton shot 38 to lead the Falcons past Faith Christian 215-223 last Friday at Peach Tree Golf and Country Club in Marysville.
“That was a really good win for us,” coach Joel Meisenheimer said. “They (Faith) have pretty much been the team to beat in our league since I’ve been here. We still have to face them two more times, but if we can beat them on our home course (April 18 at DarkHorse Golf Club) I’d say we’re looking good right now.”
Then again, Meisenheimer had some high expectations coming into the season for a co-ed team led by senior Christina Stockton, the team’s lone female member who signed a national letter of intent in November to play at the University of San Francisco.
In the past two years, Stockton has won more than a dozen national and regional tournaments, including her triumph as a 16-year-old at the 2004 Sacramento County Women’s Championship, as well as the Future Collegiate World Tour (FCWT) event at Teal Bend Golf Course.
Even though she didn’t play in Friday’s match against Faith Christian, younger brother Ryan stepped up to fill the No. 1 spot, with support from a balanced lineup in which four shots separated the No. 2 through 5 positions. Freshman Maxx Mamula shot 42, returning second-team all-league player Jeremy Brown shot 43, while Matt Koch and freshman Austin Rosene each shot 46. Senior Ryan Ring also shot 50.
“Looking at who we had coming out, I knew coming into this season we would have a chance to win the league,” Meisenheimer said, adding that another team goal is to build toward taking a shot at winning the small schools sub-section tournament in May.
In the meantime, the Falcons will be working on the little things they need to do to improve their games.
“One of my goals is to spend time working on our short game,” Meisenheimer said. “Most of these kids can drive the ball pretty well, now we need to work on playing around the green.”
Erik Flores has graduated and taken his golf game to UCLA, but he certainly is not forgotten at Nevada Union. After watching last spring as Flores played his way to sub-section and section championships, a young group of players is looking to step into the limelight this season for Nevada Union.
They may not be ready to play at a championship level just yet, but Davidson is upbeat about the potential.
“We have more depth than we’ve had in a number of years, and they’re all young, so I think the future looks good,”
Start with Ryan Walker, a senior entering his first full varsity season, in addition to juniors D.J. Milligan and Gavin Butcher. Milligan, a third-year varsity veteran, led the team with an 80 in its Metro League season opener, while Butcher shot 84 and Walker 87.
The top teams and six individuals from the four Metro League regular season matches will qualify for the sub-section tournament in May. One of Davidson’s goals is to be represented at the sub-section tournament.
“I’m expecting big things from those guys,” he said. “They’re solid performers. They’ve been around Erik and they want to play at that level. They have the desire and that’s half the battle because this is a sport that requires a lot of time and work.”
Junior John Hyland, who shot 88 in the Miners’ season opener, currently fills the No. 4 spot in Nevada Union’s lineup. A half dozen players are challenging for the No. 5 spot, including sophomores Sean Babin, Travis Callison, Colin Rutherford, Rich Benveneto and Shane McCoombs, as well as freshman Spencer Biersdorff (who cracked the varsity lineup this week).
After winning back-to-back Pioneer Valley League championships in 2003 and ’04, Bear River had to settle for second-place in the league last year behind Colfax. So, with five returning players in the lineup, are the Bruins ready to challenge for another championship this spring?
“We’ll have to have a very good year because Colfax is pretty good,” said Bear River coach Gayne Nakano, whose squad is off to a 2-0 start in league. “We’ve started out all right, although we haven’t seen Colfax yet and Mira Loma should be good, too.”
Bear River features five returnees, including two all-league players – junior Nick Honey and sophomore Niall Conn. Tyler Chicourrat and Eric Brown, both juniors, played in the sub-section tournament and sophomore Greg Remillard also saw action last season.
The Bruins turned in a solid round Tuesday in their 206-232 league victory against Mesa Verde at Sierra Pines in Roseville.
Mesa Verde’s Billy Kotsovolos shot even-par 36 to earn medalist honors in the match, while Chicourrat and Honey finished close behind for Bear River with respective scores of 37 and 38. The rest of the Bruins were closely bunched, including Conn (42), Brown (44), Remillard (45) and freshman Taylor Daniels (45).
“It was a pretty good score,” Nakano said. “We’re trying to get better, but we still have time, and I do think we will improve through the season.”
Bear River opened its season with a 204-243 league win against Lincoln on March 9 at Lake of the Pines.
The Bruins are scheduled to host Whitney in a league match today at Lake of the Pines, followed by a shoot-out next Tuesday at home against Colfax.
To contact Dave Price, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
A CLOSER LOOK
Coach: Hank Davidson
Keep an eye out for: Ryan Walker, D.J. Milligan, Gavin Butcher, John Hyland
Key athletes lost: Erik Flores, now at UCLA
Postseason: Flores was the medalist at the sub-section tournament (4-under 67 at The Ridge Golf Club) and at the Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament
Key Match: April 24 at final Metro League match, Alta Sierra; May 8 at sub-sections, Paradise Valley
Forest Lake Christian
Coach: Joel Meisenheimer
Keep an eye out for: Christina Stockton, Jeremy Brown
Top newcomers: Freshmen Ryan Stockton, Maxx Mamula, Austin Rosene
Key matches: April 18 vs. Faith Christian at DarkHorse; May 2 at Central Valley Christian League Tournament.
Coach: Gayne Nakano
Keep an eye out for: Returnees Tyler Chicoriat, Niall Conn, Eric Brown, Nick Honey, Greg Remillard
Key athletes lost: Ryan Ursiny, Luke DePass
Postseason: Ursiny was a section qualifier
Key matches: April 24 at Pioneer Valley League Tournament, May 1 at Pioneer Valley League Tournament, May 8 at sub-section tournament
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Golfers Jackie Hill and Bonnie Marvelli teamed up to take top honors in the 2021 Partners Best Ball Championship of the Nevada County Country Club Women’s Golf Group.