Placer golfers shooting for another winning season

Hillmen hoping for a repeat of last year’s success
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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The Placer High School boys golf team is looking to repeat as league and section champs this season.
Coming off a landslide section-championship victory in 2012, the Hillmen might have a tougher path to glory this season as four of their top golfers from last year graduated. 
“We won the section championship last year by 32 strokes and I lost four of those kids,” said coach Greg French. “I have two good players from that team that came back. They’re both sophomores. They’re both really good players.”
Those young guns are Clark Pietromonaco and Daniel Gregg. French expects them to be two of the best in the Pioneer Valley League. 
“Clark is starting off the year as our No. 1. He’s hitting the ball really well,” the coach said. “They’re both really excited about the year. Daniel is our No. 2, but either one could switch. They always shoot between even-par 36 and 40. That’s good for sophomores. 
“They are the tops of the team and will be for the whole league. I don’t see, maybe with the exception of one kid from Bear River, any other kids being better in the league.”
While French speaks fondly of the two younger players, he expects the Hillmen (2-2) to get solid outings from the older players as well. Especially as they get deeper into the season. 
Both Peter Kean and Michael McNamara, who played key roles in Placer’s 20-9 varsity boys basketball season, are just returning to the links. 
“Consequently, they basically just finished basketball and while they’re playing basketball they can’t play or participate in golf,” French said. “They’re just starting and going and getting to play golf on a regular basis. I think as the season goes on, they’re going to get better and better. They’re both three-year players on varsity. They haven’t had an opportunity to play much lately.”
Senior Kyle Kelley, a fourth-year player, will also figure into the mix. 
Junior Logan Strange, who got some playing time last year, will likely play a bigger part on the golf team this season.
Two of the other boys, Landon Hicks and Trevor Heath, are freshmen. Hicks has fired a couple of 39s lately, and Heath, who has a passion for golf, isn’t involved in any other sports. 
Of Heath, French said,“Down the road, I think he’s going to be a pretty good player.”
Considering the team’s youth, French projects the Hillmen to grow this year and be pretty powerful the next. 
“We’ll be much stronger next year than we are this year,” French said. “But that’s how it goes. That’s the way high school sports is. We’re all working together. We want to repeat as league champions and we want to repeat as section champions. Hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”  
One of the key players Placer lost is Cody Riecks, who is doing home-schooling this year but will likely return the following season. 
“He was the low scorer at section championships last year at Yolo Fliers (Club),” French said of Riecks. “He had a big part in us winning the section championship. Not to have him this year hurts us a little bit, but we’ll get by, we’ll do fine.” 
PVL play starts Thursday, when the Hillmen host Center at Auburn Valley. Tee time is 3 p.m.
Individually speaking, Bear River’s Jake DePass will give Placer some stiff competition in league matches.
As far as the other PVL teams, French said, “Colfax, Lincoln and Bear River are always tough. It’s going to be a very competitive year for everybody.
Hopefully we can come out on top. We’ve got some teams this year in our league that are fairly good.” 
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