There’s potential growth in the area’s three girls’ golf teams this year.
For Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, the Tologs have a returning class that will hopefully propel the team to a playoff spot in the tough Mission League.
In the Pacific League, Crescenta Valley and Glendale look to blend their team’s experience with a core of younger players to make a push in the rigorous season.
Here’s a closer look at the teams.
The Falcons boys’ golf coach, Mark Samford, takes over the girls’ team from Grant Clark. He will have pair of experienced returners in junior Katie Bernade and Eliana Kim, the team’s lone senior.
“We have a wide range of experience and abilities,” Samford said. “Here’s my expectations: everybody go out and compete. If you did the best and you stayed mentally tough, then that’s the best you can do. If we do that, I won’t have any complaints. They’re talented.”
Crescenta Valley graduated four starters from last season and finished fourth in the Pacific League. Samford will look to his two most experienced players to help boost the team, with perennial powerhouse Arcadia the favorite to win league.
“Some girls just hit the ball, plus it’s hard to stay focused and not get down on yourself, but I expect those girls to help with that and course management,” said Samford of his returning duo. “Some of the girls don’t have experience on the course. Just small things — how to play, where to mark the ball. Just golf stuff girls with experience can help with.”
Among the newcomers is freshman Sofia Redderstorf, who’s drive will add a spark to the depth of the team.
“She’s athletic,” Samford said. “She’s trying to play a couple of other sports, so any time you split time with other sports or if you’re competing against someone who plays golf year-round, you’re going to struggle, but she’s dedicated, she works hard and she’s coachable, so I have no complaints.”
FLINTRIDGE SACRED HEART ACADEMY
After a season of growth, its time for the Tologs to break into the Mission League’s top three teams and book a playoff spot. One of the ways the Tologs will aim to do that is to keep the team’s focus and harness the talent fifth-year coach Ric Moore has at his disposal.
“I’m working more with the girls and hosting more golfing clinics,” Moore said. “We’re really specific on the things that matter most in competitive golf, that’s being able to drive it in the fairway, pick your approached shots — if not on the green, certainly around the green — and having a short game that allows you to get up on the green in one or two putts, at most. Then, we will be competitive.”
Moore sees Harvard-Westlake, Marlboro and Notre Dame as the Tologs’ top challengers for a playoff berth, but will keep an eye on other league foes in Louisville, Chaminade, Alemany and Marymount.
The Tologs finished sixth in league last season.
“We lost the strength of our team and there were only a few players being able to carry the team, but there were too many high scores,” said Moore of last season. “We were not nearly as competitive, so I talked that up to developing new talent for the future.”
Moore has a trio of key returners in senior Jenny Wang, junior Katelyn Hsu and sophomore Katia Stavropoulous, who has most impressed the coach thus far.
“Boy, she is showing great promise,” said Moore of his returning sophomore. “She has improved her overall swing as well as her strategy on the golf course. Also notable is her improvement in putting, which is really going to drop her scores, and her ability to chip and pitch.”
An addition to the team is freshman Julia Kensel.
“When I conducted a golf clinic with Katia and Julia, it was very impressive how far she could hit the golf ball and how solidly she hits it,” Moore said. “She will definitely be a welcomed member on the team.”
Last season, the Nitros had only four players competing in league matches.
This year, the same core four returns, however, Glendale coach Anthony Mohr has seven beginning golfers added to the team that will help build the future of the program. However, those newcomers will likely not participate in league matches, as Mohr will carefully oversee their development.
“They’re all beginners, so hopefully they can keep with it and next year I’ll be able to bring six,” Mohr said. “I’ve only had them for a couple of days, so they’re all really raw. They want to get better. They’re motivated to improve.”
To aid his cause are the four returning players in senior Nicole Ser Manukyan and juniors Gabby Aghajanian, Nicole Harrigan and Arpi Stepanyan. This year, Mohr expects them to reach the Pacific League tournament finals.
“I’m just hoping to see improvement,” said Mohr of his second-year returners. “Last year, we played double-par on eight of the nine holes, and this year, I’m hoping they don’t pick up a little. I’m hoping they can compete and not have to pick up. I’m hoping to see a lot of improvement and they have improved. They’ve been working hard.”