It was a very productive week for the Escalon High School boys golf team as they picked up two crucial Trans-Valley League victories and gained valuable experience in one of the top golf tournaments in the area.
On Monday, March 17, the Escalon linksters traveled to Stevinson Ranch Golf Course to play in the prestigious Yellowjacket Invitational. With a field that featured 17 teams including some of the top golf teams from the Bay Area and Central Valley, the Cougars ended the day in fourth place, only 10 strokes from taking second.
“It was a great field, as it always is. The competition was terrific,” Coach Rusty Fachner noted. “The conditions, on the other hand, were less than advantageous. There were 20-25 mph winds and the course was playing extremely long. But our guys did a good job of managing the course and coming in with solid scores. Playing in tough situations like this will certainly help us later on in the year.”
Escalon was led on the day by Nick Toy and Jared Wall, who both posted 89. Lane Cadell added a 91, and Brandan Trammell chipped in with a 98. Zack Gardner completed the scoring with a 108. Fachner was proud of the effort by Toy and Wall.
“I know the scores may sound high for 18 holes, but I thought Nick and Jared did an excellent job of grinding their way through the day. Most of the top scores were right at that mid-80’s level,” Fachner said.
Tuesday the Cougars hosted Modesto Christian at Oakdale Golf and Country Club, defeating the Crusaders 221-267, moving their TVL record to 4-1 and taking a solid hold on second place. Cadell took medalist honors with a 41, while Wall finished right behind him with a 43. Nolan Sarkozy and Gardner shot two of their best rounds of the year carding identical 45’s. Toy came in with a 47 and Trammell a 48 to round out the day’s scores.
“I was very happy that we had all four guys shoot in the 40’s,” stated Fachner. “It means that we’re starting to do things right when we go out and play. We’re not just hitting the ball without thinking about it, but that we’re actually playing golf the right way. It’s a really positive sign. We’re a young team. If we can learn and win, it’s a bonus.”
Escalon closed out the week with a win over Riverbank. Because of a shortage of players, Riverbank was forced to disqualify their team, but individual scores still counted for league play. After making a big improvement on Tuesday, the team slipped a little against the Bruins. Fachner wasn’t really concerned considering the situation.
“While I would have liked to see the guys come out and put up some incredible scores, I also realize that it’s tough to remain focused when you’ve already won the match before you even get started. Competition is what really brings out the best in players, and when that competition isn’t there, sometimes it’s hard to keep your mind on what you’re doing,” said Fachner. “It’s not an excuse. We have to learn to play in all types of situations, but I know it was tough for the guys.”
Cadell again led the way with a 42. Toy and Wall added 44’s, and Sarkozy and Gardner each added 48’s. Trammell’s 50 finished up the scoring.
“In talking to the players,” Fachner added, “we really are just having trouble on a certain hole each round. Each player seems to ‘blow up’ on one hole each round and that prevents us from shooting low scores. We’ll do some things in practice to try and solve the problem. But it’s a good problem. Trying to figure out how to correct a problem on one hole sure beats trying to correct problems on all nine. This just shows how close we are to being really good, and that’s exciting.”
The second half of the season sets up well for Escalon, and Fachner really thinks his guys will be better the second time around.
“We have Ripon, Orestimba and Hilmar, all tough teams, at Oakdale in the second round. We already played them on the road. If we play as well as we’re capable of, we could be in a position to win the TVL title when it comes to the end of the year tournament. I’m excited.”