After nearly a decade of fielding talented teams and coming up short in its quest to get beyond the first round of the playoffs, the La Cañada High boys’ golf program can now rest easy.
Backed by another solid round from Collin Morikawa, the Spartans saw their frustration come to a close Monday after they carded a team total of 375 to finish second in the CIF Southern Section Northern Team Divisional at Soule Park Golf Club in Ojai.
The Spartans, who won the Rio Hondo League championship, will next participate in the CIF individual and Southern California Qualifying Tournament at 8 a.m. May 27 at Mission Lakes Country Club in Desert Hot Springs for the first time in program history.
“It’s a very exciting time for the guys right now,” said La Cañada first-year Coach Rich Wheeler, whose team finished behind Westlake (362) and one stroke ahead of Thousand Oaks (376) . “This was one of the biggest goals in advancing past the first round and it came down to every stroke counting.
“They didn’t let the pressure get to them and they came in after having a good week of practice. I’m just happy for them.”
St. Francis finished fifth in the Central Team Divisional on Monday at Lakewood Golf Course in Lakewood.
La Cañada received an even-par 72 from Morikawa, a junior and the reigning All-Area Boys’ Golfer of the Year, in the 20-team event. The Spartans also received a 74 from Joshua Suh, 75 from Robby Stehlin, 76 from Sam Bernstein and 78 from Adam Horne. The top two teams from each of the seven divisionals advanced to the qualifying tournament.
Morikawa said the Spartans were eager for a breakthrough performance Monday.
“We just knew that we had to keep at it with things and just stayed composed,” said Morikawa, the league’s individual champion. “We talked about it before our round about being able to put it all together.
“It came down to every shot making a difference. It’s great to be moving on.”
St. Francis, which finished second in the Mission League behind Loyola, saw its season conclude after it carded a 383. Four teams from the Mission League finished with top-five performances. Loyola won the 19-team tournament with a 367, followed by Harvard-Westlake (371) to extend their seasons. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame had a 380 to finish fourth.
The Golden Knights got an even-par 72 from Michael Finney, 73 from Johnny Brandt, 76 from Michael Mozilo, 80 from Stian Lintvedt and 82 from Jack Tenney.
St. Francis Coach Kyle Ostrom said the Golden Knights had some good efforts.
“Michael Finney and Johnny Brandt really played well throughout,” said Ostrom, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Golf Coach of the Year. “Those guys, along with Michael Mozilo, all had great scores.
“Some of our guys just struggled a bit coming into the final six or seven holes. There were some low scores out there and our league got four top-five finishes. That tells you how strong our league really is.”
The top four teams from the qualifier will advance to the Regional State Qualifier on June 2 at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich.