2017-04-21 / Sports

Pioneers continue ascending on links

BOYS’ GOLF /// Simi Valley Pioneers Simi Valley boys’ golfers steadily improving this year
By Jonathan Andrade


A TRADITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER—Simi Valley High boys’ golfer Brian Egan eyes the ball on the third hole at Simi Hills Golf Course during an April 18 match against Oak Park. 
Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers A TRADITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER—Simi Valley High boys’ golfer Brian Egan eyes the ball on the third hole at Simi Hills Golf Course during an April 18 match against Oak Park. Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Simi Valley High’s boys’ golf team continues to improve on the links.

The Pioneers, who struggled in 2015, finished .500 in Coastal Canyon League action last year.

This spring, Simi Valley, which wrapped up match play with a 403-418 win over Oak Park on April 18, finished the regular season 5-3 overall. The Pioneers also notched a win on April 4 over a talented Moorpark squad that dismantled Simi Valley during the March 14 league opener.

“Every year it starts off a little rough,” head coach Matt Williamson said. “We started getting the ball rolling.”

Most Simi Valley golfers only play during the season. Understandably, it takes time for everyone to find a groove.


HELLO, FRIENDS—Jack Greene, a Simi Valley junior, tees off on the sixth hole at Simi Hills. Greene can drive the ball more than 300 yards. HELLO, FRIENDS—Jack Greene, a Simi Valley junior, tees off on the sixth hole at Simi Hills. Greene can drive the ball more than 300 yards. Jack Greene, who consistently shoots in the 70s, said he struggled in that opening match on the road against Moorpark due to 50-mph winds.

While conditions have been more favorable since, Greene carded his best score, an even-par 70 on March 21 at Los Robles Greens, on a cold, damp afternoon.

“It was raining so I wasn’t trying to kill the ball,” he said. “I was swinging smooth and within myself. I was hitting my driver really well.”

Greene, who can drive a ball more than 300 yards, said he’s working on his irons and chipping heading into the final two league tournaments.

“I hope I do well,” Greene said. “I’m focusing on the league tournaments to hopefully get into CIF.”


THE PRICE IS WRONG—The Pioneers prepare for their match against Oak Park on April 18. THE PRICE IS WRONG—The Pioneers prepare for their match against Oak Park on April 18. Williamson said Greene has a chance to make a postseason run.

“In the last month he’s been phenomenal,” the coach said of Greene. “His attitude and everything he does is about control. He seems to be getting a good grip on that.”

CIF-Southern Section Central Coast team regionals are May 15 at River Course at the Alisal in Solvang.

Michael Semder, a junior, has also been swinging well recently.

“I’m playing a lot better than I did last year,” Semder said. “I’m hitting a lot further and a lot straighter. It’s a lot more solid.”

Semder, who grew 4 inches over the summer, shot his best round against rival Royal, a 78 on April 6 at Simi Hills Golf Course.

The National Honor Society member, who maintains a 3.5 grade-point average, said he plans to work on his game this offseason.

IS THAT HAPPY GILMORE?—Simi Valley High golfers Brian Egan, left, and Jack Greene discuss strategy on the fifth hole at Simi Hills. Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers IS THAT HAPPY GILMORE?—Simi Valley High golfers Brian Egan, left, and Jack Greene discuss strategy on the fifth hole at Simi Hills. Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Brian Egan, a sophomore standout, has emerged as one of the most consistent shooters on the team.

Egan, who carded a 79 against Oak Park this week at Simi Hills, got into the sport by playing with his grandfather, Dom Stellutto, at nearby courses, including Camarillo Springs and Spanish Hills.

“It’s nice to have that bond with my grandfather, to come out and play golf every other day,” Egan said. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now.”

Egan said his 82-year-old grandpa still doesn’t let him win.

“That man shoots his age,” Egan said of Stellutto. “I don’t know how. That man plays like a 60-year-old would.”

Egan’s father, Brian, played baseball at Royal. Egan’s uncles Brent, Bobby and Billy also roamed the diamond at the rival school. Brent Egan, who still holds the school baseball record for runs scored in a season (45), was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1996.

The younger Brian Egan said his uncles never give him flack for donning the maroon and gold.

“They’re proud of me that I’m out here playing my heart out,” he said.

Jay Lakhanpal and Kyle Okuhara, both juniors, bolster the starting lineup with sophomore Ryan Powell.

Seniors Ryan Berg and Jacob Haddajian, and Ryan Pavich, a junior, also compete for playing time.

Williamson fans the competitive flames for Simi Valley, which doesn’t field a junior varsity squad, by keeping more players than necessary during the season.

There are 17 golfers on the Pioneers’ roster.

The golfers that don’t see as much action are busy working on their craft for next season. Sometimes the up-and-comers improve enough to compete for a starting spot.

“It keeps the better players on their toes thinking, ‘These guys want to play. I better step up my game if I don’t want them taking my spot,’” the coach said.

Williamson’s not afraid to mix up the lineup to get his youngsters some action.

The Pioneers are hungry to keep improving.

“We’ve been going out and practicing, getting better and better,” Egan said. “Next season will be even better than this season.”

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