Escalon golfers kicked off the 2017 season this past week with four matches, and walked away with a record of 3-1. After a scrimmage rain out against Bret Harte, the Cougar linksters beat Linden and Orestimba, before falling to Ripon Christian. The boys completed the week by defeating Calaveras.
In the match against Linden at Lockeford Springs, Escalon used balanced play by its top five golfers in beating the Lions, 228-251. Senior Zack Gardner led the way with a 39 and was followed by sophomore Nathan Sarkozy’s 45. Fellow sophomores Danny Bava and Brad DaDalt came in at 46, while senior Brandon Levin carded a 52. Junior Nick Lattig closed out the scoring with a 56.
Coach Rusty Fachner was pleased with his team’s first outing.
“Considering the wet conditions, and the fact that the course was playing very long, I thought our guys did real well. I was really happy with the efforts of the three sophomores and Nick Lattig. I thought Nick did well in his initial varsity match,” said Fachner.
The Cougars then returned home to Oakdale Golf and Country Club to take on Orestimba. The Purple and Gold easily beat the Warriors, 244-287. Again it was Gardner leading the way with a team-best 39. Sarkozy and Bava followed Gardner with scores of 44 and 46 respectively. DaDalt added a 51, while Levin came in at 54. Lattig finished the day with a 59.
“Once again I was pleased with the overall effort,” commented Fachner, “but we need a couple of players to get into the 40’s to be a real threat at winning at the title. I know we can accomplish that goal.”
Against Ripon Christian, played at Spring Creek Golf and Country Club, the Cougars fell to the Knights 246-243 in a match where none of the Cougar golfers played exceptionally well. While there were four players scoring in the 40’s, it was the upper 40’s and Escalon dropped a match that it probably should have won.
“Spring Creek is always a tough track, and all of our players were just off a little,” Fachner said. “Those things will happen early in the season. RC didn’t play well either, and left the door open for us. We just didn’t climb through. On the positive side, it was a good opportunity to get used to Spring Creek.”
Gardner continued to lead the Cougars in scoring with a 47, while Sarkozy solidified his second position with a 48. DaDalt and Bava followed right behind with identical 49’s, and Levin added a 53. Lattig rounded out the day with a 60.
In the last match of the week, Escalon traveled to La Contenta and beat a solid Calaveras squad, 229-234. The match against the Redskins was all about Gardner as he carded a one-under par 34 for his best round of the young season.
“Zack was superb on a course that certainly wasn’t optimal. To shoot under par in those conditions was phenomenal,” noted Fachner. “The key thing was that we needed that effort from him. Without Zack’s great day, we lose that match.”
Sarkozy and Bava continued to play solid golf, carding their fourth score in the 40’s as Sarkozy came in with a 44 and Bava a 48. DaDalt, Levin and Lattig were all bunched in the low 50’s with scores of 51, 52, and 53 respectively.
An added note to the Cougar golfers’ early season success was the play of freshman Steven Gately and junior Parker Franklin, who paired up to win the Hughson Rules Clinic Tournament on Feb. 23 at River Oaks GC. It marked the first time a team from Escalon had won the tournament. Placing second in the tournament was the team of junior Blake Kissee, freshman Max Mello and sophomore James Wentzall.
The remainder of the 2017 golf team includes senior Dominic Brumley, sophomore Matt Spurgeon, and freshman Ian Gregg.
“They’re young, they’re willing to listen and try new things, they work hard, and they will get better,” an enthusiastic Fachner said. “They’re a great group of young men. We will get better and perhaps be very successful. It’s exciting.”