PASADENA — A final day of Pacific League boys’ golf action was not without drama at Wednesday afternoon’s league championship at par-70 Brookside Golf Course No. 2.
While it was no surprise that Arcadia High captured both the individual and team championship, Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Burbank highs all boasted a top-seven finisher, while Burroughs capped a strong individual season.
Glendale High’s Russell Caletena led the area and his school in what turned out to be a historic afternoon.
Even though Caletena wasn’t thrilled with his nine-over-79, good for 10th on Wednesday, the golfer’s total adjusted strokes score of 463 qualified for third overall in the final individual standings behind league champion Andrew Baek (73 on Wednesday and 436 overall) of Arcadia and his Apaches teammate Showta Moriyama (73, 459).
Caletena’s top-seven finish also qualified the sophomore for a rare prize, which was a ticket to Monday’s CIF Southern Section Northern Division Regional Tournament at Oxnard’s River Ridge Golf Club Vineyard Course at 8 a.m. He will be joined by fellow locals Cody Renfro of Crescenta Valley and Jason Apinchapong of Burbank.
“Russell is the first Glendale boys’ golfer to qualify to the tournament in at least 10 years or at least as long as I’ve been here,” Glendale Coach Anthony Mohr said. “The only other athlete to do that was Tammy Panich (in 2009), so that is quite an accomplishment.”
Caletena entered the day second and two strokes ahead of Moriyama, but fell behind his Arcadia counterpart through nine as he shot a 41.
Caletena did rally over the back nine, including when he connected on a birdie on the par-four, 394-yard 13th hole, which was made possible thanks to a solid two-putt.
“I missed making it to CIF last year by two strokes,” Caletena said. “That was my goal since then, to get back here and to make it to CIF and I did that.”
Renfro will make the trek to Oxnard along with Caletena as the junior continued his surge “in his backyard” by carding a five-over-75, which tied him for fourth with Burroughs’ Dylan McNeely on the day and placed Renfro fourth overall in league.
Nobody posted a better score through the front nine than did Renfro, who shot a one-over-36.
Despite Renfro’s strong play through the front nine, the junior’s best score came on the 11th hole, where he connected on a rare eagle on the par-five 546-yard hole.
“I had a good drive to get started on the hole and then I had a great chip that put me right in front of the hole,” Renfro said. “I’ve played on this course so many times and I’ve had better scores, but an eagle is cool.”
Maybe the day’s biggest shocker came from Apinchapong.
The sophomore entered the day 10th and seemed a long shot to grab a top-seven qualifying spot, given he was seven strokes out of seventh.
Yet, Apinchapong turned in a much-needed six-over-76, which was tied him for fifth on Friday and nabbed the final spot to Oxnard with a seventh-place overall score of 476.
“I really didn’t think I had a chance,” said Apinchapong, who finished two over through the front nine. “I just came out with a mindset that I was going to shoot my best and just see what happened.”
Apinchapong outlasted Arcadia’s Peter Ju, the league’s first alternate, who shot a 77 on Wednesday and then lost due to a lowest-round tiebreaker with Apinchapong.
The league’s other individual advancers all hail from Arcadia in Vamsi Damerla and Jonathan Flores, who both shot 76 respectively.
Area-best honors for Wednesday went to Burroughs’ Daniel Kesicbasian, who carded a 74, which was good for third overall.
Burroughs’ Louis D’Aquila shot an 81, while teammate Patrick Colbert carded an 88 for the Indians, who finished third in league and will be back in action at the CIF Southern Section Northern Division Team Championships on May 19 at Soule Park Golf Club in Ojai.
Crescenta Valley, which will also participate at Soule, received an 83 from David Holeman and an 86 from Jon Hong and AJ Roa.
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.