At 3-1 in league play, the Escalon High School boys golf team has started off the 2014 season on a successful note. This year’s Cougar linksters, consisting of two seniors, four juniors, a sophomore and four freshmen, have shown glimpses of brilliance in their early season matches. But as with all young teams, they have had their learning moments as well.
“At times we look like world-beaters, and there are other times when we look like the inexperienced team that we are,” Coach Rusty Fachner commented. “I forget at times that only half of our current starters have any true varsity experience. I forget that we still have some growing to do. My expectations for this group are very high.”
Returning from last year’s starting six are juniors Lane Cadell, at the number one spot, and Nick Toy in second. Senior Jared Wall secures the third spot, and newcomer, freshman Zack Gardner occupies the fourth spot on the Cougars’ ladder. After that, juniors Brandan Trammell and Andrew Alcantor, senior Nolan Sarkozy and sophomore Tim Wallace are all in a battle for the fifth and sixth spots, respectively.
“After the first four players, it’s been a bit of a crapshoot,” noted Fachner. “I’d really like to see one of the guys step up and take the final two spots on a permanent basis. It would provide the team with some real stability if it happened.”
Trammell, in recent matches, has played in the fifth spot and according to Fachner, has done an admirable job.
“I really like what Brandan is doing. He’s one guy who seems to be gaining confidence. He’s grown as a player and a person, and it shows in his game.”
Alcantor began the season at six, but recently Sarkozy has stepped up his game to take that spot.
“Nolan needs to keep improving to hold onto number six. I know that Andrew and Tim will give him a run for it. They want to play,” stated Fachner.
As for Cadell and Toy, Fachner is very happy with his top two players.
“In the first few league matches, both of these guys have done exactly what they have needed to do. It’s tough playing in those top two spots and I feel that we have two of our league’s best. Lane has been pretty consistent shooting in the low 40’s and high 30’s; Nick has been a little higher.
“If they both take off and start solidifying their games even more, we’ll be trouble for a lot of teams.”
Wall is still trying to find his stride, but Fachner has confidence that his steady play is right around the corner.
“Jared works so hard. Right now he’s a little inconsistent, but that will change. He just needs to manage the course a little better and we’ll start to see some low scores from him.”
Gardner, in his first season of varsity golf, is basically getting a trial by fire.
“Zack is having a few ups and downs, but that’s to be expected. He’s still learning courses and how to play them. He has a lot of talent, maybe some of the best I’ve seen from a freshman, and has turned in some quality scores already. Plus, Zack loves the game of golf and is always working on his game. What more can you ask for? He’s a major factor for us, even as a freshman,” said Fachner.
Rounding out the roster are freshmen Domini Brumley, Brandon Levin and John Beaver. All are new to the game, but are improving each and every time they take the course. Fachner really likes his young charges.
“These guys are great to be around and they are out there working hard,” he said. “Their scores keep getting better and better, which is an indicator that they aren’t just going through the motions. These guys are serious about what they’re doing, and I love their attitude.”
The Cougars have compiled their 3-1 record with wins over Orestimba, Hughson and Hilmar, with their one loss coming at the hands of Ripon.
“When you look at our record, and you realize that we’ve played three of our four matches away, I’m pretty happy,” remarked Fachner. “Toward the end of the season, those teams have to come and play us at Oakdale. We’ll be ready and waiting. We’re right where we’re supposed to be.”