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Girls Golf moves on to team CIF

Watching from the shade trees adjacent to the second fairway, Claremont High School girls golf Coach Octavio Hernandez couldn’t hide his dismay after one of his seniors took a drop, adding one stroke to her score.

“She couldn’t find her ball,” he said. “I hate to see it, because this is her last chance [to qualify for CIF].”

If Coach Hernandez seemed anxious, it might be because for the first time in school history all six varsity players qualified for the Palomares League Finals, which was played Wednesday at Western Hills Country Club in Chino Hills. Only 20 girls made the 89-stroke cut at Tuesday’s prelims at Los Serranos Country Club, and nine will advance to the CIF individual finals.

During Tuesday’s prelims, Maryn Santiago and Sally Wang tied for Claremont’s lowest score at 84 strokes, 10 over par. The other girls came in at 86 strokes apiece for Allison Gallegos and Juliana Gomez and 88 strokes for Vanessa Lopez and Ivana Kovac.

In the end, none of the girls made the cut for the CIF Southern Section Individual Regional finals on Monday. However, they did improve on their scores from the prelims. Santiago and Gomez made second team All-Palomares League.

Santiago came out of the finals as the?Pack’s top player, with a score of 83 combined and an 84 in the prelims for a total of 167. Gomez was not far behind, with an 86 on Wednesday for a total of 169. Kovac had the lowest score during the finals at 82, and tied with Wang at 170 strokes. Rounding out the squad were Gallegos at 175 and Lopez at 187.

“These kids have worked hard all year and fought the last two days. League prelims and finals were great preparation for team CIF at Los Serranos North,” Coach Hernandez said.

The hard work paid off, Claremont finished league in second place behind Diamond Bar with an impressive 11-3 record, defeating every team except the Brahmas on the road, which is pretty impressive.

But their year is not completely over. CHS will compete in the team CIF match on October 31 at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills.

The course at Western Hills, as the name suggests, is quite hilly, making for some challenging holes. Coach Hernandez noted that the CHS home course, Marshall Canyon, has similar terrain. To make matters worse it was hot and very windy, with Santa Ana winds picking up as the afternoon progressed.

“I told them to take it one shot at a time, to focus on each hole,” said Coach Hernandez. Due to the wind, he said, the girls had to choose a different club and try to keep the ball low.

Coach Hernandez is optimistic as the season comes to a close. With just three players graduating and three returning, the Pack looks strong again next year.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com