After the first round of league play, the upstart Escalon High School boys golf team finds themselves tied atop the Trans-Valley League standings. In sporting a league record of 6-1, and an overall mark of 11-2, the Cougar linksters have used a combination of solid play from their top performers, and some welcome surprises from the newcomers.
“It’s really been a pleasant surprise the way we have played so far this season,” noted Coach Rusty Fachner. “Our returning starters have been terrific, and the freshmen that we’ve used this season have really surprised me. This team is so young, and we’re still improving. It really bodes well for the second half of league play.”
After taking time off for spring break, Escalon jumped right back into the mix with the league’s Mid-Season Tournament on April 4. Played at Pine Mountain Lake Country Club, this tournament offered players an opportunity to improve upon their all-league positions. And the Cougars took full advantage. Zack Gardner shot 76 to take first overall in the tournament and helped to pad his lead as the top performer in the TVL this season. Tim Wallace was also superb on the day, carding an 80 for a third place finish. With his finish, Wallace also moved into a top position in the league.
“I can'’ tell you how impressed I was with the efforts of Zack and Tim, but I guess I shouldn’t be,” Fachner noted. “They’ve been stellar all year. Pine Mountain is not an easy course by any means. The pro at the course even spoke to them about how impressive their rounds were. That speaks volumes.”
Nolan Rockwell also improved his all-league standing with a seventh place 88, and freshman Danny Bava carded a 92 to finish 10th in the coveted Top 12.
“Having never seen the course before, Nolan and Danny also did a very nice job,” Fachner commented. “Danny’s philosophy of ‘keeping the ball in the middle of the fairway and playing safe’ really played to his advantage. It was great to see them both manage the course so well.”
Finishing the scoring on the day was Brad DaDalt with a 106 and Brandon Levin with a 119.
“This was not about team scoring, but I think we sent a message to the rest of the league with how well we played as a team. We are getting better,” stated Fachner.
The day following the tournament, the Cougars hosted Hilmar in a crucial TVL contest. Escalon took the match 218-271 in one of the team’s better dual match efforts of the season.
“It was a solid win, and we played well. Hilmar is well-coached and can present problems. However, we certainly handled them this time,” said Fachner.
Gardner continued to be the squad’s top player, coming in at 38 on the day for the Cougars. Rockwell was right behind him with a solid 41, and Wallace followed that with a 43. Nathan Sarkozy shot 49, DaDalt added 50 and Bava finished the day at 51.
“The one thing we are seeing with our younger guys, is that their scores are steadily coming down. Hard work, better course management, and overall improvement in ball striking has led to scores in the high 40s and low 50s,” Fachner pointed out. “This is what we were hoping would happen. The competition that we currently have, of four players for three spots, has also helped. All of them have to focus if they want to play.
“The competition is making them all better. With the second half of league, the league tournament, and perhaps Divisionals, it couldn’t come at a better time,” Fachner concluded.