Last year was the 41st time Wilson won the Moore League boys’ golf championship as a team, and the 27th time that a Bruin took home the individual title. It looks like both of those numbers will grow in 2020.
Wilson’s Brandon Bennett won the league finals last year, and the two Wilson golfers who finished behind him are back and ready to lead a talented bunch of Bruins. Senior co-captains Spencer Johnson and Samin Bhagat finished second and third, respectively, as individuals. Bhagat is a four-year varsity golfer.
“The team has high expectations and is looking to continue their winning tradition,” said Wilson first-year coach Kurt Holmes. Long-time coach Jeff Evans stepped down in the offseason.
“We are a good putting team,” Holmes said. “And our top six golfers are all within 6 strokes of each other.”
Junior Matthew Schafer, younger bother of current Long Beach State’s Tyler Schafer, leads the team in scoring average. He was sixth at the league finals last year, and also won the Wilson’s Wonderful World of Golf Championship in the offseason. Bennett won it last year, and Tyler won it the year before that.
Senior Andrew Martinez is another key returner for Wilson. He finished fifth individually. Holmes said senior J.P. Greco, junior Philip Vos and freshmen Ky Stopp and Jet Adame will be the key newcomers.
Wilson has four major tournaments this season with the Ayala Spring Classic, the Servite Invitational, the Champions Invitational and the Southern Nevada Invitational all featuring top teams from Southern California.
Millikan will be the top completion for Wilson, and fans will know who to watch for when the Rams and Bruins kick off the Moore League season on March 17 at Recreation Park Golf Course.
Junior Spencer Salcedo qualified for the CIF-SS individual tournament last year after finishing seventh in league, and he’ll lead an experienced group of Rams.
“We had a very young varsity team last season that included two sophomores and four freshmen,” Millikan coach Robert Tomlin said. “Basically the whole team is returning with a season of playing together under their belt.”
Tomlin said Josh Balogh, Jerome Ruaux, Ethan Caspers and Nolan Reyes will be the key returners. He added that freshman Jake Cammarata could be a great addition to a team that’s long off the tee and already plays well as a group.
At Long Beach Poly, the Jackrabbits are trying to move past a forgettable 2019 season that didn’t see an individual golfer reach the CIF postseason. Senior team captain Max Irwin and junior Kole Kikuta will lead the way. Irwin will try to improve on his 10th place finish in league.
Poly coach Bill Dodge said he expects his team to compete for second place with Millikan, and that freshmen Shane Kikuta and Theo Pruitt could be key to returning to the CIF-SS postseason as a team.
Lakewood also has good leadership in senior Austin Glynn, sophomore Ethan Figueroa and senior Ryan Johnson. Coach Tom Busch said he expects his team to compete hard this year.
“Our goals are to become better golfers with good etiquette, good sportsman and hopefully lower scores,” Busch said.
Freshman Carter Adams could be a big boost for the Lancers.
Coach Michael Carroll is trying to build a program at Jordan, and the Panthers took a big step forward when captain Cameron Wilkinson finished on the first sheet of the league finals leaderboard. He will be joined by alternative captain Andrew Ruiz as the tone setters. Seniors Adela Montes, Manny Guerrero and Javier Rios are also coming back to work with Carroll.
“All of our golfers came to us having never hit a golf ball before,” Carroll said. “Our most important matches will be against Lakewood this year. If we can be competitive with Lakewood, it will be a sign that we are improving as a program.”
Carroll added that Sebastian Lopez and Ruben Velasco are two newcomers with no prior golf experience who have quickly developed repeatable swings.
“Our program goals are to continue to grow,” Carroll said. “We will field a Junior Varsity team for the first time in over a decade, and we were very close to having a girls team this year. In the next five years we would like to have all levels filled out and field competitive teams year in, and year out.”
Cabrillo is also looking to make some noise this season with a pair of three-year golfers in captains Jason Easter and Felipe Jaime. Fellow upperclassman Nicholas Parra and Javier Perez also played last year, so the Jaguars are hoping to capitalize on their experience.
“A successful season for the Jaguars would be our boys playing golf, with a sense of pride for their school and community,” Cabrillo coach Blake Dorman said. “I want to see them continue to get better, exhibit sportsmanship and respect to our opponents.”
Dorman hopes newcomers like freshmen Ruben Chavez and Kelvin Cruz can grow in his program.
The Moore League individual final is scheduled for the week of May 4.
St. Anthony is also looking to have a notable season at Lakewood Country Club. The Saints haven’t lost a league match in the last three years under coach Chris McGuiness, and are looking good to repeat as Camino Real League champions.
Four-year player and captain Cade Rehling leads the way for the Saints. Senior Jack Lopez, sophomore Luke Lopez, junior Jacob Organista and senior Matt Baldwin are the other key returners.
“Our most anticipated match this year is against Long Beach Poly,” McGuiness said, “It is difficult to schedule a Moore League school and Poly was open to a match.”