Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - October 18, 2013

Success is par for the course

Castilleja, SHP, Gunn, Palo Alto, M-A and Menlo all enjoying winning years heading into postseason

by Keith Peters

When Donn Levine took over the Castilleja golf program this season, he had some very specific ideas on how he wanted the season to turn out.

"When I took over the team, my stated goal was to win it all, not just WBAL," Levine said of his high expectations. "The first was accomplished. Now we need to focus more on what is going to make us even better."

Castilleja wrapped up its seventh league title with a 207-228 victory over host Harker in a West Bay Athletic League dual match Tuesday at Los Lagos Golf Course in San Jose.

The Gators (9-1, 9-2) were led by junior Chloe Sales, who shot a 1-over 35 to earn medalist honors. Junior Nicole Mitchell (39) and her twin, Danielle (42), also defeated their opponents as did sophomore Paris Wilkerson (43) and freshman Risa Yang (48).

Castilleja is now 63-3 in league play since the 2007 season, the start of its string of league titles. The Gators bounced back nicely from Monday's 202-209 loss to second-place Sacred Heart Prep, a setback that ended a streak of 29 straight league victories.

SHP also ended a Castilleja streak of 22 straight league wins in 2010. Prior to that, Castilleja's previous loss came to Harker in 2008.

"It was a big win," SHP coach Mark Dowdy said of Monday's win, which avenged an earlier four-stroke loss to Castilleja. "The tie does hurt us, though. It was kind of a perfect storm when we had the tie. We had three matches that week and that really sets the kids back in school, so we had to go deeper into the roster.

"To compound matters, Maddy (Ellison) missed the match due to illness and one of the NDSJ players shot their career low score. It's sports, those things happen. Hopefully we'll continue the strong play next week and earn one of the at-large CCS team entries."

Sacred Heart Prep (8-1-1, 8-2-1), which had its title hopes ruined with a 232-232 tie with Notre Dame-San Jose on Oct. 7, wrapped up its regular season with a 232-264 victory over Mercy-Burlingame at Poplar Creek, site of next Wednesday's league tournament. The one-day event qualifies individuals to the section tournament. A total of 23 individuals from the various league events will advance to CCS, along with four at-large teams. SHP is hoping to be one of those teams.

Castilleja won the tournament last season with Sacred Heart Prep finishing third. SHP showed on Monday, however, that Castilleja can be beaten.

Ellison, a sophomore, led SHP with a 4-over 39, with junior Jessica Koenig and freshman Cami Steppe adding 40s. Lauren von Thaden shot 41 and fellow freshman Sinead Haley a 42.

Ellison played in the second group and Steppe in the third. It was Steppe low match score of the season. She didn't even figure in the scoring the first time the teams met.

"Sacred Heart played really well," said Levine. "Lots of great scores from their freshmen. Hard to believe they were tied by NDSJ recently. Not much to say about us except many (Castilleja players) didn't perform to their usual high standards."

Sales and Nicole Mitchell each shot 40 to pace Castilleja. Senior Ellie Zales contributed a 43 after not scoring in the first match. Danielle Mitchell also shot 43 along with Wilkerson. SHP held a four-stroke lead with the final foursome still to finish.

In the WBAL on Wednesday, Sacred Heart Prep wrapped up second place with a 232-264 victory over host Mercy-Burlingame at Poplar Creek. The Gators were led by Koenig's 2-over 38 and a solid 41 by Ellison.

In other WBAL action, Menlo closed its regular season with back-to-back victories to even its league record to 5-5. The Knights wrapped things up with a 245-249 victory over Notre Dame-San Jose after Erin Broderick saved par on the last hole at Palo Alto Hills Country Club. Menlo's Lauren Yang was medalist with a 44. Jessie Rong shot a 46 and Nicole Henderson 48.

In the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, senior Jayshree Sarathy made the most of her final match at Palo Alto Muni by shooting a 2-under-par 32 to pace Gunn to a 193-221 victory over Los Gatos on Wednesday.

The Titans improved to 12-1 in league (13-2 overall) and remained tied for first place with Palo Alto with one match remaining yesterday. Both teams were expected to win easily and share the league's regular-season title.

Sarathy had four birdies, including three in a row on holes No. 6-8. She also made birdie on the par-5 opening hole. This was her seventh round shooting par or better this season in 14 rounds played.

Gunn junior shot an even-par 34. She had a nice bounce back from a double-bogey six on the second hole, with a birdie on No. 6 and an eagle on the par- 4 eighth hole, where she drove the green. Gunn also got a 41 from Margaret Redfield, a 42 from Lianna McFarlane-Connelly and a 44 from Tiffany Yang 44.

Gunn and Palo Alto will compete in the SCVAL Tournament on Tuesday at Santa Teresa Golf Course in San Jose. The winner automatically advances to the CCS Championship.

"It's between Gunn and us," said Doyle Knight, who has guided his first-year Vikings to a near-perfect record (only one loss to Gunn). "Whoever wins represents our league in CCS. The other team has to get in as an at-large. We both should get in, but I really want to get in as the league rep."

In PAL Bay Division action, freshman Naomi Lee shot a 1-over 37 to pace Menlo-Atherton to a pair of victories at Poplar Creek GC in San Mateo. The Bears shot 241 to defeat both Capuchino (316) and Mills (255). M-A ranks third in the division behind Aragon and San Mateo.

Menlo-Atherton will compete in the 18-hole PAL Individual Tournament on Tuesday at Poplar Creek, starting at noon. The Bears will send Lee, junior Ashley Utz, sophomore Margaret Sten and freshmen Christina Park, Abigail Pederson and Angie Yang.

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