2016-09-02 / Sports

Golfers’ paradise

Royal, Simi Valley tangle in Coastal Canyon League
By Jonathan Andrade


TOP GUN, PART DEUX—Stephanie Russo, donning aviator shades, chips the ball onto the green while Royal High girls’ golf teammates Kaitlyn Allen, left, and Abbey Chisholm watch at Sinaloa Golf Course. 
Photos by WILLIAM SPARKES/Acorn Newspapers TOP GUN, PART DEUX—Stephanie Russo, donning aviator shades, chips the ball onto the green while Royal High girls’ golf teammates Kaitlyn Allen, left, and Abbey Chisholm watch at Sinaloa Golf Course. Photos by WILLIAM SPARKES/Acorn Newspapers The Coastal Canyon League high school girls’ golf circuit is going to be very interesting this season.

Oak Park lost one member of a power trio that helped the Eagles soar to back-to-back league titles.

Camarillo, Moorpark, Royal and Simi Valley see the break as an opportunity to make a push for the top spot.

“We’d like to challenge Oak Park for a league title,” Royal head coach Rich Letus said. “(Oak Park) is the king of the mountain until somebody knocks them off. They still have two of the top-four golfers from last year.”

The Eagles, led by senior Georgia Shevitt and junior Karisa Toy, aren’t worried about an uprising.

The loss of Jewel Jorgenson, now at Tesoro High in Orange County, will surely be felt, but Oak Park reloaded with talented freshmen Bodia Borijin and Lauren Chen.

“They’re really serious about golf,” Oak Park head coach Donn James said of the rookies. “They’re getting a lot of practice in.”

James said all 10 golfers on his roster have the skill to help Oak Park cobble together a successful season.

The tough league slate will prepare the Eagles for the playoffs.

“I think there will be a tense level of competition,” James said. “I think it’ll fire the girls up. We want to three-peat and do better in CIF. That’s the true test.”

Royal, which finished in second place in the Coastal Canyon last fall, has its eyes on the top prize.

Letus said the Highlanders boast a deep lineup, including talented returners Stephanie Russo and Natalie Salas, the only seniors in the program.


HAMMER OF THOR—Royal’s Kylie Dunkleberger concentrates on her shot at the driving range at Sinaloa Golf Course on Wednesday. The Highlanders are in action at 2 p.m. Sept. 6 against Pacifica at River Ridge Golf Course. HAMMER OF THOR—Royal’s Kylie Dunkleberger concentrates on her shot at the driving range at Sinaloa Golf Course on Wednesday. The Highlanders are in action at 2 p.m. Sept. 6 against Pacifica at River Ridge Golf Course. “Last year they were great as juniors leading the way,” the coach said of Russo and Salas. “This year, they’ve taken a big leadership role helping out all the incoming freshmen. Even the sophomores have stepped up in that way.”

Kylie Johnson and Meg Darvishian are consistent sophomores.

“I’m expecting breakout seasons from them,” Letus said of Johnson and Darvishian. “They’ve put a lot of work in. Their play kind of makes or breaks us.”

The Highlanders battled Oak Park on Thursday. A score was not available at press time. Royal next takes on Pacifica at 2 p.m. on Sept. 6 at River Ridge Golf Course, then Moorpark in a league match at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Elkins Ranch Golf Course.

Letus said he expects teams to take the Highlanders seriously this season.

“I think we caught a bunch of teams off guard last year,” he said. “This year, I think they’ve taken notice.”

Moorpark sophomore Lara Yeung surprised everyone last season by claiming the Coastal Canyon League’s individual title in her rookie season.

Musketeer head coach Dave Chapman, entering his 11th season at the helm, said Yeung is gearing up for an encore.

“She had several rounds last year under par,” Chapman said of Yeung. “She’s like a seasoned veteran. The more she keeps playing tournaments the better she’s going to get.”

Moorpark also returns two All-Coastal Canyon second team standouts, seniors Mia Howe and Anjali Khandelwal. Freshman Olivia Hernandez expects to play well on the links.

“We’re solid, one through four,” the coach said. “It’ll be awesome to go to CIF.”

Chapman’s never taken the girls’ team, which last won a league title in 2003, to the postseason. Last spring he guided the boys’ squad to its first league title in 23 years.

“It’d be nice if the girls could win one,” Chapman said. “I think this is probably the strongest team we’ve had in my 11 years.”

Simi Valley head coach Andy Silva said his team’s ready to bounce back after going winless in league last season. The Pioneers started 5-0 this season, including a one-stroke victory over Moorpark on Aug. 31 at Elkins Ranch.

“We look very good,” said the third-year head coach, who also leads the school’s softball team. “I believe we’ll be in the mix for winning the Coastal Canyon.”

Returners Emily Rodnunsky, a sophomore, and Savannah Hatfield, the only senior on the team, lead the Pioneers.

Sejal Parsi is an exciting freshman to watch.

“She’s been a diamond in the rough,” Silva said of Parsi. “We have a few of those on our team this year.”

Sophomore Taylor Devine and freshman Stella Maples bolster the Pioneer lineup.

Simi Valley has a tuneup match against Thousand Oaks at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at Simi Hills Golf Course.

“We’re hoping to turn things around this year and get back to the top,” Silva said. “We’re expecting some good things down the line with these freshmen coming in. It’s going to make the program much stronger for years to come.”

Camarillo head coach Bill Dowden said his team looks new this fall.

The Scorpions graduated four golfers and said “ciao” to one foreign exchange student who played a crucial role last year. Another golfer moved away.

Carissa Christianson, a senior, is Camarillo’s top returner. Katie McIlhaney, a junior, and Tiffany Pak, a freshman, are expected to have breakout seasons.

The Scorpions must focus on the basics to thrive on the course.

“I’m hoping a lot of the girls have improved their chipping and putting,” the coach said.

The Scorpions open league play against Simi Valley at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Spanish Hills Golf Course.

“We expect to do as well as we can in league,” Dowden said. “We hope to shoot enough qualifying scores that we qualify for the team CIF.”

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