Not taking anything for granted, the Turlock High boys golf team is now sitting at the top of the Central California Conference with a seventh consecutive championship within reach after the Bulldogs earned a 204-230 victory over Pitman High on Thursday afternoon at the Diablo Grande Golf Course.
The winds reached a high of 17 miles an hour as the players tried to settle into the rugged terrain of valleys and sand, weather that can alter a player's game. But in a team effort, led by Paul Smith, who shot a 37 for the day's best score, Turlock was able to pull together a win. Jeff Chapman and Eric Wetzel both shot 41 with a birdie each, followed by Tyler Gomes (42). Matt Macedo and Travis Souza finished at 43, completing the day with a birdie on the ninth hole.
“The CCC is a competitive place,” Turlock coach Ben Culala said. “You lose any of your players, and you become exposed. You're human like everyone else, but we’ve been fortunate. I haven’t done anything special, as far as nurturing players. I don’t do that. I simply reinforce what their teachers have already taught them.”
Pitman fell 28 strokes behind in the match, putting them in a three-way tie with Atwater High and Buhach Colony High for second. Trevor Wells led the Pride with a 41, followed by Josh Parker (45), Dylan Schmidt (46), Troy Bennet (47) and John Trout (51).
Turlock is now 11-1 against Pitman since coach Culala took over as the boys golf coach six years ago, matching the Bulldogs' season record.
“Aside of all the competition, the fans, those people out there who take sides in this rivalry,” Culala said, “they forget these kids grew up together, and it means a lot to them just to be able to play each other.”
Turlock and Pitman will be participating in a second CCC tournament at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Stevinson Ranch. Pitman will be fighting for third place to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Championships on May 10 at Brookside Country Club in Stockton.