EL DORADO — The Union Mine girls golf team won Monday’s season-ending Sierra Valley Conference tournament at Empire Ranch Golf Course, capping an undefeated run that had the Lady Diamondbacks capture the program’s fifth straight league title.
“The girls were really excited about winning. I think we had it set in our mind we had a good shot but that didn’t take away from the excitement,” Union Mine coach Chad McGowan said. “They worked really hard and knew it wouldn’t come easy.”
Led by Megan Sturgeon’s team-low 87, the D’backs won with 498 points, 32 better than second-place Vista del Lago. Cosumnes Oaks was third (582), Galt fourth (601), Liberty Ranch three strokes behind (604) and El Dorado was sixth (611).
After Sturgeon, Marilyn Dunne shot a 93, Trisha Tolbert and Kinsey Del Rio both carded a 100, Sarah Bence checked in with a 118 and Maleah Denault finished with 120.
With regards to league standings, it was Union Mine at the top followed by Vista, Cosumnes Oaks, Liberty Ranch and the Cougars tied with Galt for fifth place.
“There were a lot of contested matches,” McGowan said. “They came through in the close ones and had their better scores. They were prepared and played their best golf.”
The program returned four of its six top players from last year. Union Mine won the 2010 section banner, a year that closed an era that saw the D’backs benefit from the talents of players like Kim McCready and the Stelzmiller sisters, Chelsea and Cassidy, who each went on to play at the Division I level in college.
Hit with graduation and the uncertainty of a new crop of 2011 players with limited experience, McGowan and assistant coach Martin Walsack set about to mold the team into another winner.
“Last year I’d thought we’d take our lumps but the young girls really stepped up,” McGowan said. “This year we had good numbers and it was a matter of getting a couple others to step up and we were able to find that. And, one of the keys to making our program work is to have a quality assistant and that’s Martin.”
Tolbert, Sturgeon, Del Rio and Dunne were named to the All League team.
Sturgeon had the top scores of both league tournaments and plays best in the larger 18-hole events. Del Rio, according to McGowan, is a real natural who works hard on her game. Dunne is the glue of the team who really loves the game. Denault is one of six freshman on the roster and she’s come on the last half of the season while Bence’s play has earned her a spot on the traveling squad.
The D’backs qualified for the Divisionals Monday at the Elkhorn Country Club in Stockton.
“I’m not sure about the postseason other than I want the girls to go out and let loose,” McGowan said. “We’ll have to play above our heads to win and be more aggressive to give us a chance. In reality we’re probably a year away for contending for a section title but you’re never sure what will happen (in golf).”
Despite El Dorado’s finish, its No. 1 player, Kaitlyn Strahlendorf, moves on to the Division Tournament.
“This was a building year for us as we lost our two best players from last year. We will be stronger next year,” Cougar coach Karen Weinhold said.
El Dorado’s scores for Wednesday were: Strahlendorf, 119; Sami Jumper, 129; Ivory Linger, 114; Megan Lubinski, 115, Lindsey Thomas, 134; Theresa Zachry, 135.