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Breakout year has Fannin aiming higher for senior campaign
Ripon High junior Haylee Fannin is the Manteca Bulletins 2011 Girls Golfer of the Year. - photo by HIME ROMERO

• Lexus Barnes, Sierra sophomore: One of several promising sophomores in the area, Barnes earned all-VOL first-team recognition after posting a 96 in the conference tournament. Was one of four T’Wolves to qualify for the SJS Division-IV Tournament and led the team with a 101.
• Angelique Cardoza, East Union junior: Was the runner-up to Oakdale standout Mabel Wong for MVP recognition in the VOL individual points race. Cardoza produced an average score of 91.3 in three postseason tournaments while helping EU claim its fifth straight league title.
• Jenny Ketner, East Union senior: The No. 3 finisher among the VOL’s point leaders was the top postseason performer for the Lancers. Ketner carded an 83 in the VOL finale and an 88 while leading EU to its fifth SJS Division-IV title in six years. She scored a 96 at Masters.
• Kailee Nuding, East Union senior: One of four Lancers to capture one of seven all-VOL first-team spots, and she didn’t compete in the league finale. Nuding posted her best 18-hole score during the Sierra Invitational with a 97, which helped EU win the tourney title.
• Jenny Wickham, Ripon Christian junior: Placed third with an 88 in the VFL North Midseason Tourney and earned an all-league spot despite not competing in the conference finale. Wickham finished in a four-way tie for 10th with a 96 at the SJS Division-V Tournament.
• Jordan Vinson, East Union sophomore: Three-time medalist in duals placed fourth in the VOL tournament with a 91 to secure a spot on the all-league first team. In the section tourneys she carded a 101 at divisional and 102 at Masters. Also scored 94 in Sierra invite.

— Jonamar Jacinto

Haylee Fannin’s golf game has come a long way in three short years.

Yet, she feels that it still has a long way to go to get to The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton — the site of the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament.

The talented Ripon High junior has one more chance to advance to Masters — a qualifying tournament for NorCals — after failing to do so three straight years. Considering that she started golfing her freshman year, she has reason to be proud of what she has accomplished so far.

This past fall, Fannin was co-MVP of the Valley Foothill League’s North Division and is the Manteca Bulletin’s 2011 selection for its Girls Golfer of the Year award.

Her season ended with a ninth-place finish in the SJS Division-V Tournament at Stevinson Ranch Golf Club, where she carded a 20-over-par 92. It’s an uncharacteristically high score for Fannin, whose consistency paved the way for an otherwise successful season on the links.

“Going into it I was expecting that it would be tough for me to continue on (to Masters),” Fannin said. “All those players who come from bigger schools have been playing since they were little, so they are more experienced than I am.

“I would love to make it to Masters. I will have to work really hard for that and I have to practice more.”

And she hopes to bring her teammates along for the ride.

It was not long ago when then-senior Samantha Conway and Fannin led the Lady Indians to a second-place team finish in the VFL North with a 10-2 record — a substantial and sudden improvement from previous seasons.

That was in 2010. The 2011 season was the start of a rebuilding process that Fannin, along with sophomore Sienna Starck, hopes doesn’t last long. Ripon went 2-10 in league dual matches this past season, but its leaders managed to stand out.

Fannin shared MVP honors with Bret Harte’s Emaline Ellsworth, and Starck earned a spot on the all-conference team while joining the rest of the league’s top golfers in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V Tournament.

“For me and Sienna it was weird for us to go from being so good as a team to kind of having to pick everybody up and teach them how to do it,” Fannin said.

It’s a role Fannin willingly takes on after shadowing Conway — now a member of the Redlands University women’s golf team — for two years. Fannin showed promise as a freshman with her natural athletic ability, but the first-year golfer needed refinement. Conway aided her development and encouraged her to join the Junior Golf Association of Northern California circuit.

“Sam and I became pretty good friends,” said Fannin, who also credits Ripon coach Eric Dambrosio for her brisk development. “We would golf on the weekends together and she would help me out. She really got me motivated for golf.”

Fannin wasn’t just good during her junior campaign, she was consistently good. She rarely carded blow-up scores, and even on her worst days she posted respectable numbers. Fannin is best at driving the ball and attributes her consistency to improved putting. 

Fannin won the VFL North’s midseason tournament at Micke Grove Golf Course in Lodi, edging Ellsworth, 84-85. In the conference finale at Diablo Grande Golf & Country Club in Patterson, it was Ellsworth who prevailed by a stroke — an 84 for her, and an 85 for Fannin.

Fannin was a shot away from having MVP honors all to herself, but she wasn’t disappointed.

“I felt like I had played better (this year compared to last), which I had expected because I practiced all summer long,” Fannin said. “I played in tournaments for the JGANC, and because of that I was really consistent with my scores all year long. That’s really all I was hoping to do.”