HILMAR — The walls of the Hilmar High main office offers a display of winners. Team pictures are scattered near the back entrance, reminding students, teachers and visitors what the school's sports teams are capable of. Among the past winners is the 2004 Hilmar boys golf team. Just the other day, members of this year's Yellowjackets team were staring at the picture and reading the names and records posted underneath it.
That year, they captured the school's only Section title.
Perhaps by next week, school officials will have to make room for this season's golfers.
“It's going to be a bit of a stretch,” senior Taylor Bettencourt said. “We're all going to have to play a good game, pretty much a perfect round to take it.”
The Yellowjackets captured the Western Athletic Conference Championship on May 3 at Diablo Grande Golf Course after another solid all-around performance, though coach Ty Pettigrew said that his players weren't necessarily at their best in the 18-hole tournament after earning a team score of 476, 25 strokes ahead of runner-up Central Catholic High.
They finished WAC play 15-0, in addition to a 19-0 overall record.
The last time the Yellowjackets were perfect in league was when the boys of the 2004 Hilmar team finished 12-0 and captured the Trans-Valley League title before winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Championship.
They have a chance to end their six-year drought on Monday, when the Division V Championship takes place at the La Contenta Golf Club in Valley Springs. Other favorites to take it all include Ripon High, Escalon High and Bret Harte High — with the last two teams finishing 1-2 last season.
The top team and three individuals will qualify for the Masters.
The Yellowjackets know there's pressure to match the 2004 success, with that team going 17-1 overall and the one loss coming against Turlock High, the Division I powerhouse. But the group, which consists of seniors Bettencourt and Raine Martinez, juniors Zack Ribera and Eric Youngborg, sophomore Jonathan O'Brien and freshman Jesminder Singh, will aim to remain cool throughout the experience.
The scoring leader is Singh, a freshman who averages a 43 for every nine holes.
But everyone contributes.
For example, O'Brien, who averages just under 50, shot a 42 in a two-stroke win over Livingston High during the regular season, a match the players called “bad.” They agreed that every player weren't at their best, and perhaps they walked onto the course “a little cocky.”
By then, the Yellowjackets were perfect in dual matches.
“We were realizing we already won all our matches by then,” said Zack Ribera, whose older brother Kyle was a member on the 2004 team. “We were thinking, 'We had shut [Livingston] down twice, so why can't we shut them down a third time?' ”
Even though Hilmar won, it was a nice little reality check. Especially for a team whose roster boasts players with averages under 50 strokes. Singh is the No. 1 guy, but even he gets tips from his teammates, one reason why the Yellowjackets say they've been so successful after finishing 6-9 in the WAC last season.
They've all been supportive of each other, too.
“It's just normal,” Singh said. “You go out there and play golf. I don't think anything else really matters.”
But a Section title would nice, too.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.