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Turlock girls golf qualify for Masters
THS golf pic 1
Turlock High’s Kelsi Valenzuela watches her putt during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Championship in Stockton on Monday. The Bulldogs wrapped up the day with a second-place team finish, enough to advance to the Masters Tournament.
STOCKTON — As the golfers were finishing up their respective last holes, they were already thinking about lunch. Some of them were overheard talking about what they wanted to eat, minutes before their final putts sunk into the ground.
For the Turlock High girls golfers, they probably didn’t think much beyond their late lunch on Monday afternoon. Just like the other girls, the Bulldogs had a long session on the Elkhorn Country Club, where they played 18 holes in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Championships after the previous day’s rain swept the area.
The Bulldogs munched on their food inside the clubhouse and watched tournament officials post up score after score. This gradually made them think the unachievable, that their high scores in the high 90s and low 100s just might be good enough. Their instincts didn’t betray them.
Turlock’s team score of 507 was good enough for second place in the final team standings, and 41 strokes behind winner Lodi High. That means the Bulldogs are taking another road trip to Stockton next week for the elusive Section Masters Tournament at The Reserve at Spanos Park, marking the second time since 2007 that they’ve made it this far.
“As a team, they hang in there with their scores,” Turlock coach Mary Krupka said. “They beat a lot of teams, because they’re consistently average.”
Average is a good thing in the Bulldogs’ vocabulary. It helped them land their seventh consecutive Central California Conference title last week. On Monday, it was enough to extend their season.
Even with a couple first-year high school golfers, the Bulldogs pulled through. Once again, Emma Mendes was the team’s scoring leader at 26-over-par 97 and the trio of Abby Falke, Hannah Gong and Zara Lopez punched in 101s, while Kelsi Valenzuela finished with a 107. They weren’t ideal scores, but it was a tough day for everyone.
Even tournament medalist Shawna Martinez of Enochs High had some trouble before carding a 79, which is considered a pretty high score for a junior golfer with college potential.
For the Bulldogs, they’re glad to continue on.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Krupka pointed out. “This team has the ability. I’m surprised the high scores qualified. That kind of goes with the course and due to the weather that went through it.”
The veteran coach said her team will dedicate the next few days on correcting this week’s mistakes, while holding onto realistic hopes. They want to compete, and they want to do well at the Masters tournament Monday.
“We’ll see what happens,” Krupka said. “One step at a time.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.