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Turlock boys capture CCAL golf crown
Freshman standout earns league MVP
Turlock boys golf
The Turlock High boys golf team finished the season as Central California Athletic League champions after going undefeated (Photo contributed).

The Turlock High boys golf team completed a historic season this month which saw numerous Bulldogs earn All-League accolades en route to their 15th league championship in 17 years. 

“It was a really good season for our boys coming off not having a season last year. We were really excited about this group of kids and what they could do,” head coach Jason Boswell said. “We wish there was a postseason, but we take what we’re given. We have great kids and they really worked hard this season.”

The golf season abruptly came to an end last year when the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to all sports, but the socially-distant nature of golf allowed the Bulldogs to get plenty of practice in as they waited for competition to return. Their practice paid off, as Turlock finished the season undefeated with six players earning Central California Athletic League recognition. 

Senior Ethan Lamb, sophomore Nihal Gill and juniors Keean Young and Elias Rabine all received First Team All-League honors, while senior Isaac Hampton earned Second Team All-League. Freshman Clark Van Gaalen, who has already made a name for himself in the golf world, was named CCAL MVP after shooting the team’s lowest score at every tournament throughout the season. 

Van Gaalen was named the Junior Golf Association of Northern California’s Boys Player of the Year last October after completing one of the best seasons by a player in the organization’s history. He was also honored as the JGANC points champion and received the award for low stroke average after winning nine overall and 10 age-group titles on the circuit. 

Boswell was thrilled to see Van Gaalen’s success so far translate into his first high school season.

“Being a freshman and having people know who he is, he did a really good job doing what he needed to do his freshman year,” Boswell said of the young MVP. “We’re looking forward to him the next three years and just seeing how he develops. Obviously, being a freshman and being a league MVP is a pretty cool thing and doesn’t happen too often.”

In addition to individual awards, the Bulldogs as a whole shot for what Boswell believes is likely the lowest team score in THS boys golf history when they earned a 376 during one tournament. With just two seniors graduating this year and a talented freshman class coming in next season, the low score has Boswell wondering if a section or state title could be in the Bulldogs’ future.

“I haven’t seen anything that would contradict it, so I’m thinking it’s probably one of the lowest scores in school history,” Boswell said. “Golf is a game of numbers, so when you look at a number like that where does it put us? That’s exciting, because you’re not a player for a title unless you have those low scores. It’s exciting to think that next year could be even better.”