STEVINSON — After falling short of closing the deal in years past, the Union Mine High girls golf team won its first ever Sac-Joaquin Section divisional championship Monday at Stevinson Ranch Golf Course.
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The Diamondbacks finished at the top of the field, which consisted of eight teams representing the Western Athletic and Valley Oak leagues and the Sierra Valley Conference.
Union Mine’s Cassidy Stelzmiller turned in the low score of the day, a 79, Teammates Tasha Kubeck and Courtney Thomas tied for third individually with a pair of 91s. Camille Waldon posted a 97, Elizabeth Petty had a 99 and Hannah Moylan turned in a 101 for a team total of 457, 44 strokes lower than second-place East Union with a 501. Galt took third with a 530, led by Riley Sexton’s second lowest score of 81.
El Dorado’s individual division qualifiers, Jessica Slightham and Courtney Boyer came in with a 98 and 107, respectively, and will not advance.
The Union Mine team along with Oak Ridge’s Lauren Swan return to the links Monday for the Masters tournament at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton.
Delta River League
Swan, who posted the third lowest score individually, is the only Trojan to advance to next week’s Masters tournament . The team’s No. 1 this season, senior Nicolette Bondura, finished with a 95 and missed the cut. Beomyun Han came in with a 97 and Shivani Sharma had a 102.
While the leap to Division I was difficult for various teams from Ponderosa and Oak Ridge, the girls golf teams not only had to adjust to a new level of competition, the Delta River League schedule was a huge change.
“Instead of battling for league titles with Union Mine and Christian Brothers we had to compete against powerhouse St. Francis and Pleasant Grove,” Oak Ridge golf coach Tony Diaz said. “Along with the team changes came a change in the match format. We were used to nine hole matches against all the teams in our league and two 18-hole tournaments.
“In this league there were only four 18-hole tournaments and all strokes counted toward the standings. Even though we placed second in both the second and third tournaments, we lost second place by 10 overall strokes. The format was challenging and the process to change is in the works.”
Ponderosa coach Steve King agreed. “We definitely miss the duals. We’re changing the by-laws to three 18-hole tourneys and six duals for next year.”
The regular season wrapped up Monday, Oct. 18, with the fourth 18-hole tournament at Empire Ranch. St. Francis finished first with 1,485 points, followed by Pleasant Grove with 1,706 and Oak Ridge with 1,716. The Bruins were fourth ahead of Folsom and Sheldon.
“We were thrilled to take fourth,” King said.
Barring a big upset, the Delta River League title was all but decided before the first swing of a golf club in the first tournament of the season.
“We knew that competing in the same league as St. Francis, we would realistically be competing for second against Pleasant Grove,” Diaz said. “St. Francis has by far the best team in the area. Four of their top five players are able to shoot in the 70s for 18 holes there aren’t many college teams that can compete with that.”
Pleasant Grove had a strong returning team but after the first tournament Oak Ridge was just a stroke behind the Eagles and had moved ahead of them with a 9-stroke lead entering the final DRL match at Empire Ranch.
“We were confident we would play well since Empire is basically another home match for many of our girls and as a team we played well, shooting 431,” Diaz said. “Unfortunately we were outplayed by a better team that day and ended up 19 strokes behind Pleasant Grove’s season-best 412.”
The Trojans were led by Bondura, who fired an 80. Han came in with an 81, followed by Swan, 84; Julia Bulotti, 90; Sharma, 96; and Kelsey Sullivan, 114. Han, Bulotti, Sharma and Breanna Baker will all return next season.
Although only the four individual golfers qualified for Monday’s Division I championship, Bondura, who was honored with the Sportsmanship award, and Han were named to the all Delta River League team.
The Bruins posted a team score of 494 at Empire Ranch. Adele Bilotta, who was an alternate for the Division I tournament, posted a 96, followed by Emily Olander, 94; Sabrina Piatt, 97; Sara DiMaggio, 102; Maggie Nuttall, 105; and Makenzie Shivers, 109.
“In all, I believe this season was a success and the girls played their hearts out every time we went out there,” Diaz said. “There were times where they played to their potential but at times, the game got the better of them. Regardless … they were committed to being the best they could be.”