With most of the lineup set to return, sprinkled in with some added depth, expectations appear to be rather lofty for the St. Francis High golf team.
The Golden Knights placed second in the Mission League and sixth in the CIF Southern Section Central Team Divisional last season, leading to them to raise the bar.
“There’s a lot to look forward to,” said St. Francis second-year Coach Kyle Ostrom, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Golf Coach of the Year. “First, we have a lot of guys back, to go along with some new additions, so that really energizes us even more.
“Most of the guys played in tournaments to help keep their games sharp. We have a lot of people who are excited about this season after we did well last year. We have to think better for this year and that starts with shooting for a league championship and moving up in CIF. We think we have things lined up to do all of that.”
St. Francis will have seniors Johnny Brandt, Michael Finney, Jack Tenney and Nathan Han and junior Michael Mozilo back to pave the way. They will be joined by freshman Stian Lindtvedt.
Ostrom said the Golden Knights are up to the challenge to record another successful season.
“We have a balanced team, but we still have some work that we need to do,” Ostrom said. “We are excited about what we can do and we know league will be tough again.
“The level of self-motivation is already high after the success from last season. Loyola and Harvard-Westlake will be some top competitors and Notre Dame is going to be good again.”
Loyola, Harvard-Westlake, Notre Dame and St. Francis all finished in the top six last season in the team divisional. Loyola won the league and divisional championships.
Crescenta Valley will have similar goals to St. Francis following a third-place finish in the Pacific League. Like St. Francis, Crescenta Valley will return many of its starters after taking 17th place at the Northern Divisional last season.
The Falcons appear to have a lot of depth in their quest to challenge rival Arcadia and Burbank for the league championship.
Crescenta Valley will bring back its one-two combination of senior Paul Park and junior Cody Renfro. Park finished second in the CIF Southern Section North Team Divisional with a two-under-par 70 and advanced to CIF Southern Section Northern Individual en route to securing All-Area accolades.
Park and Renfro will be joined by a cast that will include seniors Raphael Shin and Brandon Cho and juniors AJ Roa, Jon Hong and Gio Laballarte.
“I think we can definitely challenge for league,” Crescenta Valley second-year Coach Lee Pope said. “We’ve got some depth, which gives us a lot of options in case anybody gets hurt or sick.
“Paul’s been our most consistent player. It’s nice to know that we have somebody who can shoot par or at least close to it. He’s got all the tools and he will continue to get better.”
At Flintridge Prep, it appeared as though the Rebels were on the brink of beginning a new era. Veteran Coach Bob Loughrie, 72, was set to retire following 27 seasons. However, those plans were scrapped, leaving Loughrie to plan for at least one more season teaching the finer points of the game.
“I’ve found out that once you get to Flintridge Prep you can’t get out,” Loughrie, who has more than 300 career victories with the Rebels, joked. “At the end of last season, I offered my resignation to [Flintridge Prep athletic director] Alex Rivera and he said I couldn’t resign because he didn’t have anybody else to run the program. So that was the end of that conversation.
“The players all want to get better, so there’s a whole lot to be excited about. There’s a lot of energy and I think it can be a special season because there’s a lot of upside. My job will be to keep working with the players to help make them better.”
With the loss of standout Jack Bouchard, a former All-Area pick, to graduation, the Rebels will bring back sophomores Jonah Sacks and William Pai. They will be joined by freshmen Kartik Tandon, Justin Yu, Cameron Wu, Brendan Barton and Lawrence Kim.
Glendale, under coach Anthony Mohr, appears to also have a bright future. The Nitros, who placed fifth in the Pacific League last season and will compete in the league’s A Division after spending the past several seasons in the B Division, figure to have a nice blend of talent on board in their bid to grab a playoff berth.
Leading the way for the Nitros will likely be sophomore Russell Caletena. He will be flanked by seniors Kent Asano and Dong Yoo, junior Sammy Do and sophomore Arman Aloyan.
“We are looking to battle in league and get a third or fourth spot,” Mohr said. “Our players have worked on their games to get better.
“We think Russell can be a top-seven player in league. We expect big things from him. He’s been hitting the ball longer.”