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East Unions Riley shoots for CIF state crown today
EU GOLF7 10-4-13
East Unions Brooke Riley is the first in program history to reach the state championships, played today in Carmel. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Joined by East Union teammates Tuesday, sophomore Brooke Riley spent the afternoon at a beach on the Monterey Bay Peninsula.

She is soaking it in while she can. At this same point today she could be soaked.

Riley is the first female golfer from her school to qualify for today’s CIF State Championships at Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel. Showers are expected to dampen the course overnight and return in the morning and early afternoon with a possible guest appearance from the sun around noontime.

Neither Riley nor Lancer co-head coach Dennis Wells sounded concern Tuesday.

“She’s a good bad-weather player,” Wells said. “We were talking about it today; I think it would be a little bit of an advantage for her. If it does rain, and that’s all they are talking about down here, I don’t think it will mess her up at all.”

Wells added that Riley has the shots to play under any condition, and she has taken the opportunity between tournaments to get familiar with the course and its tendencies. Riley played at Quail Lodge twice last week and again Tuesday in a practice round with Elizabeth Schultz of Acalanes.

Riley shot a 2-under 69.

“I’m obviously very nervous for (today), but I have been hitting the ball well the last couple of days,” Riley said. “The practice round went really well and I am going in with some confidence. I have gotten pretty used to the greens, which are really quick and (sloped), and there are a couple of difficult tee shots. I have a pretty good feel for the course right now.”

The two-time defending Valley Oak League champion earned her place among the state’s best prep golfers by taking third in the NorCal Tournament at Ripon’s Spring Creek Golf and Country Club on Nov. 4. While Riley is well credentialed in her brief career, her playing partners also know their way around the fairways.

Schultz was the NorCal runner-up with a 1-over 74 — two better than Riley — and signed with San Jose State last week. She also competed in the U.S. Women’s Open as an amateur last June.

“I (previously) met her in Napa during a tournament,” Riley said. “I talked with her today and she’s super nice and really good.”

The third member of the party is a top-flight junior golfer out of Escondido. San Pasqual sophomore Haley Moore is making a return appearance to state after finishing tied for sixth last year. She took second in the SoCal tourney on Nov. 14. Moore was also a runner-up in the Junior World Championships this past summer, is a member of the U.S. Junior National Team and has already committed to the University of Arizona.

The threesome tees off at 8:20 this morning on Hole 10.

“It makes me a little more nervous, but I think it will make me play better,” Riley said of the caliber of players in her group.

Torrey Pines is the three-time defending team champion and is home to the CIF’s previous two medalists — current senior Sarah Cho garnered the individual title at Polly Hills in Pebble Beach in 2011, and Northwestern freshman Minjia Luo won it in 2012. Cho will reunite with Luo at Northwestern next year.

Wells not only believes that his young standout belongs with this star-studded cast; he thinks she can beat them all.

“(Riley) knows the course real well now and we prepared as much as we could, it’s just a matter of executing (today),” Wells said. “If she just goes out and plays her normal game, she has a chance to win it.”

If she doesn’t, Riley has two more years to make it back.

“It’s an honor to be down here and to experience it as a sophomore,” she said. “Hopefully I can go out there and play well. If not, I just want to have fun and have an awesome experience.”