2014-05-08 / Sports
Warriors seek redemption on links
Deep, talented Westlake boys’ golf team wants to earn trip to state tourney
Unfortunately for the Warriors, only six get to compete in varsity matches.
Westlake, which has shuffled its starting lineup this season, needs to cement its starting lineup before the CIF-Southern Section Northern Regional at Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai on Mon., May 19.
Head coach Rick Naranjo has an idea what his postseason lineup will look like but said there could be some last-minute changes.
“They’re all competitors,” the fourth-year head coach said. “They all want to be part of the group that goes after a state title. Every guy has played well. We rotate them every week, and we haven’t missed a beat.”
Westlake is 16-0 overall and 14-0 in the Marmonte League. The Warriors expect to put the finishing touches on a seventh straight league title at 11 a.m. today for the fourth and final round of the Marmonte tournament at Los Robles Greens Golf Course.
The Warriors hold the top spot with a 359 team score. Simi Valley is in second (381).
Brandon Jacobs is enjoying a standout sophomore season, but even he worries about sliding out of the top-six.
“You can’t relax on this team,” Jacobs said. “You can be the top guy one day and be the eighth guy the next day. We’re all trying out for those starting spots. We’re all rivals right now, but we know our team priorities.”
“We’re on a mission this year,” Jacobs said. “We all know we were capable of going to state last year. We didn’t deliver. We want to get back to Mission Lakes and get revenge. Everyone is playing motivated.”
Westlake’s crosstown rival Oaks Christian advanced to the state tourney last season—adding fuel to the Warriors’ fire.
“They’re our rivals, and we always want to do better than them,” senior Connor Sheil said.
Westlake has dominated opponents on the links this spring, and the future is bright: Seven underclassmen bolster the varsity roster.
Spencer Soosman, Jack Biwer and Jacobs continue to improve after breaking out as freshmen in 2013.
Soosman currently holds the Warriors’ No. 1 spot, averaging 70.8 shots per 18 holes. He’ll attempt to win back- to- back individual league titles today— he’s atop the leaderboard by five strokes entering the league tournament’s final round.
“He’s been consistent for us all season,” Naranjo said of Soosman. “You can always count on him to be around par. He’s having a terrific year.”
Freshman Matt Wolff is on Soosman’s heels for the top spot. He owns a powerful swing and is savvy on the putting greens.
“At the high school level, everyone can drive,” said Wolff, who averages a score of 71.2 per round. “I worked on my short game and I’m seeing results. I’ve been pretty consistent lately. I had a tough start to the season.”
Sophomores Justin Egelske, Alex Millet and Preston Smith are the Warriors’ most improved golfers.
Sean Crocker and Sheil are the only seniors on the roster. Crocker is one of the best golfers in Southern California but has missed most of the season to focus on school.
Sheil has stepped up as captain.
“It can be hard to get these guys to calm down,” Sheil said. “They’re all very talented and know what they’re doing, but they’re still young. I try to give them advice and tell them to be patient.
“They put a lot of pressure on themselves. I tell them to have fun and let mistakes go.”
Crocker, who verbally committed to USC, plans on returning for the postseason and making a run at a state title.
“We all want to win for the seniors,” Wolff said. “They want a state title bad. I’m going to try my best to help them reach that goal.”