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YC begins hunt for third title; reloaded Antelope looks for state berth
Joey Pickels and Max Coffeen are gone. Outside of Grady Bourguignon, there's a lot of unknowns for the Yuma Catholic golf team.
The biggest question is whether the Shamrocks can win their third straight AIA Division III State Championship.
“It's obviously a big deal,” said senior Kody Boyd, who along with Zach Estes rounded out the YC top five last year and will have a big role in replacing the two lost seniors. “Not a lot of people can say they won three in a row. That's what we're doing all this practice for.”
Bourguignon has been a state champion, teamwise, both years as a Shamrock. But an individual state title has eluded the junior.
“It's just as motivating as it's been the last two years,” Bourguignon said. “Hopefully we can pull it all together and get it done.”
For those two years, Bourguignon has been pushed by Pickels, with the two taking turns posting the low score for the Shamrocks. This year, Bourguignon will be hands down the best YC golfer without any pushing him.
He said that shouldn't affect his game, and coach Bob Anderson agreed.
“I don't think that's going to change Grady's game at all,” Anderson said. “Grady is a fantastic golfer, and he's been playing competitive golf as long as I've known him, which was since he was 7 — and I think he played even before that.”
Anderson said he is looking for Bourguignon to step up as a leader and has been pleased with what he has seen so far. He also said Boyd would need to slide into a leadership role as well.
Boyd and Estes, on the court, will also be big keys to the Shamrocks' quest for a third consecutive title.
“I've talked to them about stepping their game up,” Anderson said. “It's up to Kody to be our senior leader. He's been on the varsity since he was a freshman, and it's time for him to step up and overcome the little psychological barrier of getting under 80, getting under 40 for nine holes. He's always knocking on the door.
“I think he's got all the tools and he's going to do it this year. He's going to be the one to step in and give us our second top 10 golfer. And if Zach can take a couple strokes off, he'll be in the top 15. If that happens, we'll be right where we were last year.”
Joey Perricone, who was the sixth golfer last year and didn't see much varsity time, will move up to the No. 4 spot. That leaves about 10 golfers competing for the final varsity spot. Anderson said senior Colin Perez, sophomore Devin Gallimore and transfer Chad Fritz all have a shot at the final spot.
“As usual, it's a fight for that last spot. We have 10 kids that would play anywhere else in the city, but here at YC there is only one place for the 10 of them.”
The season starts today at Desert Hills with a match against Parker and Antelope — and it's also the season opener for the Rams.
State qualifier Tyler Johnson, back for his senior campaign for the Rams, is joined by Ray Ortega, who missed last year due to an injury but was on the team as a sophomore.
After that, coach Allen Hill said five players are competing for the final three spots. He said a trio of juniors — Lane Adolf, Austin Mercer and Nick Melcher — have the inside track. Sophomores Jose Valenzuela and Ben Cota could push them for time.
“I would like to see the team qualify for state, but again that's a pretty tall order,” Hill said. “I would say ... probably two, maybe three could qualify for state. If that happens, then we may have a shot.”
Obviously, the defending two-time state champion Shamrocks have loftier goals. But they are optimistic about a chance at another title.
“We're looking decent, but maybe not as good as last year,” Estes said. “But I think we have a chance at state.”