Escalon golfers have put themselves in a position to win back-to-back Trans-Valley League titles.
“It’s a real tribute to these guys that they have played well enough in dual match play to put ourselves in that position,” Coach Rusty Fachner stated. “We weren’t supposed to be here, but through hard work and determination, the guys have given themselves a chance. At the beginning of the season, we would have been ecstatic if you had told us we were going to be this successful.
“We control our own destiny, and we can’t ask for more than that.”
The Cougars were due to play in the end of the year tournament on Monday, May 2, past sports press time for The Times, and a win there at Diablo Grande would secure the TVL championship.
In a week where the fate of the Cougar linksters would be decided, the team came through with flying colors. It began at the Bulldog Invitational at Tracy Golf and Country Club, where Escalon took on some of the Valley and Bay Area’s stiffest competition. The Cougars ended up taking second against a very strong field, finishing six strokes behind a tough Mission San Jose team.
“The conditions were horrendous. Winds were blowing at 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph,” Fachner noted. “It was difficult, but the guys played very intelligent golf, and at the end of the day we did pretty well. I was extremely proud of their effort.”
Nolan Rockwell led the way on the day with an 88. He was followed by Tim Wallace’s 90, a 93 by Zack Gardner, and identical 96’s from Danny Bava and Brad DaDalt. Nathan Sarkozy’s 103 completed the scoring. Fachner also mentioned that the Cougars had done well in tournaments throughout the season.
“This is the fifth tournament that we’ve played this year and none of the other TVL teams have beaten us, team-wise. I hope we can do that one more time.”
On Tuesday, Escalon had to bounce back in an important league tilt against Hughson at Oakdale Golf & Country Club. The Huskies were one of the teams battling for first with the Cougars. At the end of the day, Escalon pulled out a 238-244 victory in a match that was as close as the score indicates.
“We were down by five strokes with our last two players yet to come in. It didn’t look good. But Bava and Sarkozy came in with scores that allowed us to flip the score, and give us a six stroke victory,” Fachner commented. “Danny’s 51 was the key. It was the score that allowed us to pull away. We needed him to have a good round and he was good enough. I’m really proud of him. It was a huge win.”
On the day, Gardner came in at 42, while Rockwell shot 45 and Wallace 46. Bava shot a 51, Sarkozy carded a 54, and DaDalt ended the day with a 55.
The Cougars finished the dual match season on Thursday with a trip to Diablo Grande to play Hilmar. Escalon used steady play by the entire team to register a 218-257 victory over the Yellowjackets. Fachner was more than pleased with the way his troops finished.
“Not only did we get the win, but we did so with one of the best scores that we’ve had all season. A 218 at Diablo is an excellent team score. Since we may be playing there twice over the next two weeks, it was a good sign. I hope we can repeat the effort.”
Rockwell took home team honors with a 40.
“His steady play over the past few weeks has been key to our success,” Fachner added.
Gardner played to a 41 while Wallace came in at 42. Sarkozy had one of his best rounds of the season, carding a 47, while Bava shot a 48. DaDalt finished off the scoring with a 51.
The Purple and Gold finished the dual match season with a league record of 10-2, and an overall record of 16-3. Both are numbers that the Cougars are extremely proud of, said the coach.
“Nobody, including me, thought we would play this well. Here we are on the doorstep of a league title. We had double digit league wins and won 16 matches overall. We’ve exceeded expectations, and that’s the definition of success. I’m so proud of these guys. They’ve represented EHS really well,” Fachner concluded.