With four of his top five players returning from a squad that qualified for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Master’s tournament last season, it wouldn’t be too far from the truth to say that Gayne Nakano’s Bear River Bruins will be fielding the top girls golf team in the foothills this season.
“We have a lot of players back, and we have some good incoming freshman,” said Nakano, now in his 20th season as Bear River’s coach. “We should have a good core to build with.”
Bear River will be joining Colfax as the teams to beat in a four-team Pioneer Valley League after Placer and Lincoln depart the PVL this year for the new Foothill Valley League.
Placer, which won the last two PVL and CIF Division IV titles, was decimated by graduation, and coach Greg French may have to go with as many as four freshmen to go with returning junior standout Birdie Brown.
Meanwhile, at Colfax, coach Gary Rooker has a solid base with three returning players, but the rest of the squad will be bolstered by five incoming freshmen.
Here’s a look at the area’s girls golf teams this season:
Bear River – The Bruins won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D-IV crown in 2015 and have played in three straight Masters tournaments. Leading the way is veteran and returning All-PVL pick Hannah Prosser. She’ll be joined by fellow seniors Kalei Owen, Madison Templeton and Nicolette Antisdel and junior Julie Picenti.
Also ready to provide depth to Bear River’s squad are Carina Shaw and transfer Sarah Aanerson. Bear River opens its season Tuesday, Aug. 21, hosting Lincoln at Lake of the Pines.
Colfax – In only its fifth season of existence, the Falcons’ program has shown marked improvement and has the depth at the top of its ladder to be a threat this season.
“We have some experience, but we will be a young team,” said Colfax coach Gary Rooker. “We’ll see how the new girls shape up when we get started.”
Leading Colfax’s prospects is returning All-PVL pick Jordan Rooker, who is a senior this season. She’ll be joined by returnees Amber Hult and Ashton Tenorio.
The Falcons, who play their home matches at The Ridge, will host Nevada Union Monday at 3 p.m.
Del Oro – Coach John Pilcher likes his team this season despite the fact that the Lady Eagles vie in a top-heavy Sierra Foothill League with powers Granite Bay, Oak Ridge and newcomer Whitney.
“Granite Bay has six-to-seven golfers that can shoot par,” said Pilcher. “They are so talented that they’re talking state championship. Our league is that good.”
Leading Del Oro’s squad will be senior captain Olivia Morrow. She’s aided by seniors Samantha Jacobs and Taylor Urrutia. Also vying for spots are sophomore Grace Rudolph, juniors Madison Urrutia and Alexis Vasquez. Another player to watch is sophomore Lilly Polete.
Del Oro will host Colfax at Morgan Creek next Thursday, Aug. 23, to open its season.
Placer – The Hillmen will have one of the area’s most talented golfers in Birdie Brown, but coach Greg French isn’t sure what else he’ll have.
“Birdie should be outstanding, but we’ll be counting on four or five freshmen to round the squad out,” said French. “We’ll be real young this season.”
French is unsure of where the talent lies in the new FVL this season.
“I really don’t have any idea about any of the teams in the league this year,” he said.
According to the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section website, the last time a school in the new FVL other than Placer or Lincoln qualified a girls golfer to the Master’s tournament was Oakmont way back in 2012.