Cougar Golfers Run Gaunt­let Of TVL Play, Tour­na­ments

Escalon Times - - SPORTS -

The first cou­ple of weeks of March have been tough ones for the Escalon High School golf boys. Weather con­di­tions, course can­cel­la­tions, and other prob­lems made it so that the Cougar linksters needed to play in six matches over the past two weeks.

Every­thing con­sid­ered, they did all right. The Pur­ple and Gold fin­ished match play with a record of 3-1 and fin­ished well in two high­lyranked tour­na­ments.

“It’s been a grind,” Coach Rusty Fach­ner noted, “but we’ve done a good job of hang­ing in there.”

Dur­ing this stretch, no one has been more re­spon­si­ble for the Cougars’ suc­cess than the team’s No. 1 player, Zack Gard­ner.

Gard­ner shot a one-un­der par 71 to win the Oak­dale Cup Tour­na­ment at Oak­dale Golf & Coun­try Club, and then backed up his per­for­mance with a 78 at the Yel­low­jacket In­vi­ta­tional. The 78 was good for third place in a star-stud­ded field that in­cluded some of the top schools in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

“I can’t say enough about Zack’s play right now. He’s play­ing as well as any golfer we’ve had in the pro­gram over the past few years,” noted Fach­ner. “The best thing is that he’s suc­ceed­ing against qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion. It shows you what hard work and ded­i­ca­tion can do.”

As a team, the Cougars took third at the Oak­dale Tour­na­ment and ninth at the Yel­low­jacket. Other in­di­vid­ual scores at the 18hole event in Oak­dale in­cluded Nathan Sarkozy at 88, Danny Bava with a 94, Brad DaDalt at 97, Bran­don Levin with 105 and Nick Lat­tig with a 122. At the Yel­low­jacket, Sarkozy fol­lowed Gard­ner with a 96. DaDalt shot 99, Levin 102 and Lat­tig 109.

Escalon also had four TVL matches be­gin­ning with a tilt against the River­bank Bru­ins at La Con­tenta GC. The Bru­ins did not com­pete with a full squad, giv­ing the Cougars a for­feited vic­tory. On the day, Gard­ner con­tin­ued to play well, shoot­ing 37. He was again fol­lowed by Sarkozy at 40. Bava and DaDalt shot iden­ti­cal 46’s, while Levin posted a 50, and Lat­tig a 51.

The Cougars fol­lowed their vic­tory over River­bank with a win against Moun­tain House at Old River GC. Gard­ner again led the way with a 40 while DaDalt was next in scor­ing with a 46. Sarkozy and Levin both had 47, and Lat­tig con­tin­ued to im­prove by shoot­ing a 48. Sopho­more Jimmy Wentzall shot 51 in his first match as a var­sity player.

“I was happy with a cou­ple of things dur­ing the Moun­tain House match,” Fach­ner com­mented. “Nick Lat­tig showed great im­prove­ment in his game, Bran­don Levin put to­gether a solid round, and Jimmy Wentzall did a great job fill­ing in for Danny Bava, who was in­jured. I liked the ef­fort from dif­fer­ent guys in the top six. I also re­ally like the con­sis­tency I’m get­ting from Nathan Sarkozy.”

Af­ter the Moun­tain House win, Escalon trav­elled to Spring Creek CC, to take on Ripon in a big TVL matchup. Ripon walked away vic­to­ri­ous with a 228-241 vic­tory, and a share of first place in the league.

“We just weren’t ready to play. Whether it was nerves, fa­tigue, loss of fo­cus, I’m not quite sure. I do know that we’re bet­ter than what we showed. It was a real team loss. We have to be bet­ter. My hope is we can get them when we play at Oak­dale,” said Fach­ner.

Scor­ing for the Cougars be­gan with Gard­ner at 40. He was fol­lowed by Sarkozy at 45 and Bava at 48. Levin and DaDalt came in at 55 and Lat­tig fin­ished the day with a 62.

Fin­ish­ing out the marathon of matches, the Cougars took on Modesto Chris­tian at Modesto Mu­nic­i­pal GC on Thurs­day. Escalon walked away with a 234-270 vic­tory. It wasn’t the Cougars’ best ef­fort, but Fach­ner was still pleased with the win.

“It wasn’t pretty, but with the grind we’ve been through, I’ll take it. We just re­ally kind of hung in there to­day. I’m proud of my guys. They re­ally bounced back well from the Ripon loss,” Fach­ner said.

On the day, Gard­ner posted a 41 for team hon­ors. Sarkozy and DaDalt were be­hind Gard­ner with iden­ti­cal 47’s. Bava fin­ished the day at 49. Levin shot 50, and Wentzall closed the scor­ing with a 52.

The Cougars will be at home at Oak­dale for the first time in two weeks as they host Hugh­son on Wed­nes­day, March 22 in yet an­other key TVL match. Then it’s on the road again as they travel to Di­ablo Grande to take on Hil­mar.

DEN­NIS D. CRUZ/THE TIMES

Cougar golfer Nathan Sarkozy has been play­ing con­sis­tently so far this sea­son, as the squad makes its way through the Trans-Val­ley League cam­paign.

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