“What a great way to end a terrific season ... Section Champs ... Wow!”
That was the reaction of Escalon High School Boys Golf Coach Rusty Fachner commenting on the fact that his troops had just taken the Sac-Joaquin Division 5 Section Title.
“Everyone was nervous as the scores were coming in,” Fachner continued. “The boys were nervous, I was nervous, the grandparents and parents were nervous. When that last score came in and we saw that we had won by five strokes, it was a real relief. These guys are a really special group of young men who worked hard to get what they achieved. I’m going to miss them.”
Castle Oaks Golf Course proved to be a tough track for the D-5 Sections, but the Cougars hung tough and shot with the same consistency that they have shown all year, said the coach. Their team total of 434 outdistanced Trans-Valley League rival Hughson, which shot 459 as a team. In the win, Fachner noted it was three key players who stepped up big for the Purple and Gold.
“Nolan Rockwell was terrific once again and led the way for us. He’s done that for us the last half of the season. Without him going low, we don’t have a chance,” stated Fachner. “But there were also two other guys who were really big in helping us secure the title, Nic Lattig and Steven Gately. Nic put together one of his best efforts of the year when it counted most. When he came with his 89, I knew we were looking good. And then Steve comes through with a 90. On a big stage like the Sections, and being a sophomore, it gets a little nerve wracking. He did a great job of staying focused and ultimately got us the score that put us over the top. I was proud of all three of them for coming through like they did.”
Rockwell also placed third overall in the tournament, carding a 78. In addition to Lattig’s 89 and Gately’s 90, Nathan Sarkozy added an 86, Danny Bava posted a 91 and Matt Spurgeon came in at 106.
With the win at Sections, the Cougar linksters qualified to play in The Masters Tournament at The Reserve in Stockton. Teams only play in The Masters Tournament by qualifying at Sections, and the field is comprised of the best golfers and teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
“Like I told the guys,” commented Fachner, “we have little chance of winning, but we earned the right to be in the tournament. I told them to go and enjoy themselves. And despite the horrendous conditions, each player felt a sense of pride in being there.”
Helping to constitute those ‘horrendous conditions’ were winds that gusted to over 30 mph. Fachner said even the best golfers suffered from the wind.
“I know that we’re better than our scores indicate, but it was tough out there. I saw golfers who usually shoot under par, go 15 to 20 strokes over what they normally shoot. I was really proud of Nathan for shooting below bogey golf on a day like that.”
Sarkozy led the way for the Cougars with a score of 89. Rockwell followed with a 93, and Gately added a 94. Bava came in with a 101, while Lattig shot 111 and Spurgeon 117.
“It was a great season,” Fachner concluded. “We did a lot of great things. Undefeated champions of the TVL ... TVL Tournament Champions ... D-5 Section Champions. We met every one of our goals. There are not very many times in life where that happens. These guys accomplished a lot, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Their abilities as golfers are only surpassed by the fact that they are quality young men. I couldn’t ask for a better group in my final season of coaching.”