Mustangs clinch Mission Division title

The Gilroy High girls golf team has won the PCAL Mission Division championship.

Gilroy High doesn’t have a storied girls golf tradition, but coach John Torres said it’s never too late to begin one. The Mustangs took a step in that direction by clinching the Pacific Coast League Mission Division championship last Thursday with a dual-meet win over Notre Dame-Salinas at Gilroy Golf Course. The Mustangs had a superior low total score of 283 to Notre Dame’s 347 to complete a perfect 10-0 division season. Jackie Torres was the medalist with a 48 and was followed by Kaylee Royston’s 54, Sami Fuhrman’s 56, Abby Clark’s 57 and Jade Gardner’s 68.

Gilroy now moves on to the PCAL Championships at Laguna Seca to decide which teams and individuals advance to the Central Coast Section Regionals. John Torres said the players worked hard over the summer in hopes of winning a division title. Torres gave credit to Don DeLorenzo, the PGA general manager who opened up Gilroy Golf Course for the players to compete in a summer league.

“A lot of our players joined that league and pretty much participated all summer,” Torres said. “We started a youth league so by the time players get to high school, they’re ready for high school golf.”

Torres has two daughters on the team, with Jackie manning the No. 1 spot and Ashlyn usually counting as the team’s fifth or sixth player, depending on the day. Clark, the team’s No. 2 player, is a co-captain along with Jackie and they’ve been exemplary in their work ethic and support of their teammates.

“What I like about these two captains is when they’re doing well, they take time to work with other players and might even forgo their practice time to assist the younger golfers just to get them on the same page, which I think is really cool,” John Torres said. “Jackie and Abby are really close and they’ve been the co-captains for the last three years. I can’t really separate them. We definitely have a special group this year.”

Clark and Torres both know how to play the course, make smart decisions and can drive the ball over 200 yards with accuracy while having improved their short games from last year. They feed off each other and push each other to become better. Outside of a round at Twin Creeks in Sunnyvale, Gilroy’s best performance came in a win over Notre Dame on Sept. 26 at Monterey Pines.

The Mustangs finished with a 256, led by Jackie Torres’ 44 and Clark’s 45. Fuhrman shot a 54, Royston a 56 and Gardner a 57. John Torres said the girls had extra motivation to do well this season after having a rough 2018 season in the Gabilan Division. In a scrimmage just before the season started, Gilroy beat Gabilan squads Christopher, Salinas and San Benito, all by at least 12 strokes.

“The girls came back with a little chip on their shoulders (after winning just one match in the Gabilan last year),” John Torres said. “Beating the teams in the upper division—even if it was a scrimmage—helped build their confidence going into the season.”

Some of the players volunteered as standard bearers in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach earlier in the summer, which strengthened their relationships, Torres said. They also volunteered at the Taylor Made Invitational before that, and plan on volunteering at the tournament again this season. Just as important, Torres said players like Jackie Torres and Clark have expressed interest in playing in college.

“After the season the season is over, both Abby and Jackie might take trips down to Westmont College in Santa Barbara (which just started a golf program),” Torres said. “The fact they’re getting looks from colleges is a huge plus.”

Indeed, since golf is not exactly a hotbed sport among high school athletes in the South Valley area, a player making a college roster would be a boon for his or her alma mater.

“It’s really hard to recruit girls into this sport because they’re just not familiar with it,” Torres said. “If you can say one of our players is now playing in college, that’s a great way to recruit and get more girls interested in playing this great game.”

Clark, who is one of just two seniors on the roster along with Gardner, has been a role model for the program in that she does everything right.

“Abby has been the epitome of the scholar-athlete player,” Torres said. “She gets good grades, is very polite and team-oriented. It’s been a blessing to have her on the team.”

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