Spartans exceed expectations

There isn't a dent in the Spartans' armor.

La Cañada High's girls' golf team finished its first season with perfect 13-0 record and will look to turn a flawless regular season into a long postseason run.

"It's been an awesome season so far," La Cañada Coach Rich Wheeler said. "The kids really just came together and they still are; nobody could have expected any of this."

The Spartans played in the CIF Southern Section playoffs on Wednesday, Oct. 27, competing against 23 schools. No matter how far they go, the fact that La Cañada even made the playoffs is quite a feat in and of itself, considering the team didn't even come together until the first day of school.

"The team has exceeded expectations," assistant coach Richard Tetu said. "[Wheeler and I] didn't quite know what we were going to get."

What they got were a solid group of six players who had no problem stepping right into a varsity team. The six are freshman Melissa Leo, sophomores Jennifer Kim and May Lo, juniors Caitlin Perry and Shannon Lee and senior Kelly Barnes.

"Those top six were there every day," Wheeler said. "They started in the very low 50s and most dropped to low 40s. That's a big, big jump, and it all happened in a two- or three-week period."

The Spartans' top-two players this year, Kim and Leo, qualified for CIF Southern Section's Individual Freelance Tournament at the Rio Hondo Golf Course in Downey. Ten girls competed and the top three advanced to the Northern Individual Regional at Los Posas Country Club on Monday.

Leo tied for sixth place with an 85 after her round. Kim ended up tied for third with an 81, but was unable to advance after losing a one-hole playoff.

The postseason wasn't close to done for the Spartans though, as they looked to continue to defy expectations — even their own — Wednesday in the Northern Team Division of the CIF Southern Section playoffs at Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai.

"I don't think we are setting such high expectations because it's our first time," Kim said. "I think we just want to try our best, really."

Truth be told, most of the team doesn't really know what to expect, or to hope for, in the playoffs.

"I don't really know what my goal is [for the playoffs] because I never expected to reach CIF, that was so beyond my expectations," Barnes said. "If the team can play well, have a good experience and do well in future years, they can build a great program."

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