Prep Girls Golf: Rancho Bernardo High, local golf teams loaded for success
By Michael Bower
All three local girls golf teams are returning the majority of their roster from last season. And that is a great thing, considering Rancho Bernardo advanced to the SoCal Regionals last year, Poway finished in seventh place at the San Diego Section championships and Del Norte won the Valley League championship for the second straight year.
Rancho Bernardo is expected to be the runner-up once again to two-time defending state champion Torrey Pines. The Broncos are led by Hannah Bradshaw, who is shooting under par for the season thus far.
Poway brings back a young group, which excelled at the end of last year. The Titans hope to make another run at the end of the season and qualify for the section playoffs.
Del Norte has yet to lose a Valley League match in its short school history and is labeled as the favorite again this year. The Nighthawks will be led by senior Paris Griffith, who qualified for her first SoCal Regional last year.
Here is a quick look at each local team:
Coach: Tim Steigerwald
Next match: Today (Thursday) vs. Torrey Pines at Fairbanks GC, 3 p.m.
Top golfers: Hannah Bradshaw, Soph.; Raquel Ek, Sr.; Tori Hancock, Jr.; Jessica Wagner, Jr.; Blaiz Major, Sr.
Outlook: The Broncos have not lost a match (through Sept. 17) thus far, but will face two-time defending state champion Torrey Pines today (Thursday) in Palomar League play.
Rancho Bernardo has reached the SoCal Regional playoffs for three straight years and is expected to do it again this season. The Broncos return all their top golfers, including Bradshaw, who has been shooting lights out in the early season.
Ek, who fired a team-best 157 at the section championships last year, has shown improvement. So have returning teammates Hancock, Wagner and Major. The group has the experience and talent to at least make heavily favored Torrey Pines play strong golf to win the league and section titles.
Coach: Jim Bennet
Next match: Friday at San Clemente Invitational, 12:30 p.m.
Top golfers: Maddelyn Zack, Soph.; Joei Ducot, Jr.; Lauren Spitzley, Soph.; Torre Brown, Soph.; Sarah Evans, Soph.; Devon Thompson, Sr.
Outlook: The Titans were full of capable freshmen last year and came on late, finishing in seventh place at the San Diego Section championships. That team is another year older and better.
“Our goal is to get into the section playoffs as an at-large because Torrey Pines will win our league,” coach Bennet said. “We just want to get into the playoffs and improve on what we did last year.”
Poway has already shown improvement, several times carding better than last year’s top score of 235 on their home course at Stoneridge Country Club. Ducot, who fired a team-best 158 at the section championships last year, has been out with a back injury. But Zack and company have done a nice job keeping Poway on track.
The Titans feel they have closed the gap with Rancho Bernardo in the Palomar League. The two already met once with the Broncos winning by six strokes. Torrey Pines, the two-time defending state champions, are heavy favorites to win the league title.
Coach: Mike Reifeiss
Next match: Today (Thursday) vs. Mission Vista at San Luis Rey GC, 3 p.m.
Top golfers: Paris Griffith, Sr.; Bella Kim, Sr.; Victoria White, Jr.; Annika Chickering, Fresh.; Alysa Nguyen, Soph.
Outlook: The Nighthawks are trying to build on their last two undefeated seasons in the Valley League behind seniors Griffith and Kim. Griffith qualified for the SoCal Regionals last year for the first time, placing 12th at the San Diego Section Championships.
“Bella and Paris have great leadership,” coach Reifeiss said. “They work with the other kids really well and help keep the team focused.”
Del Norte already broke a school record on its home course this season, firing a 202 in a tri-match against Fallbrook and Westview at the Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Course.
Newcomer Chickering adds another strong player to the roster, while White — an All-Valley Leaguer — continues to put up solid scores. Del Norte is favored to win its third straight Valley League championship.
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