East Union won the Valley Oak League title and Brooke Riley is the MVP.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Lancers, who have now captured at least a share of the past eight league titles. They backed up their perfect run through the regular season by winning Tuesday’s VOL Championship at Swenson Park Golf Course in Stockton. East Union (453), Kimball (472) and Sierra (483) were the top three teams in that order and will represent the league in next week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Tournament.
“For us having four freshmen in the lineup, we’re pretty happy about what this team has accomplished so far,” said East Union co-head coach Dennis Wells.
So far, he says.
Despite having no seniors under their watch, East Union’s coaches have kept expectations high for a group asked to fill big shoes. Last year’s East Union squad earned the program’s seventh SJS title and qualified for the CIF NorCal Tournament.
With individual state qualifier Riley and home-course advantage on their side, the Lancers have high hopes going into the SJS Division III Tournament which takes place at Manteca Park Golf Course.
“The last few weeks we’ve been trying to get them to really believe in themselves a little more and they put together some decent rounds,” Wells said. “I think we need to shave 15-20 strokes by Monday to have a chance. It will be a good learning experience for our younger girls, but we’re going there to win the championship and hopefully qualify for NorCals again — that’s our main goal.”
Riley is league MVP for a third straight season and was medalist in every VOL match she competed in this season. Her 1-over 73 was 10 strokes better than runner-up Maya Crooms of Kimball. Riley was one of four East Union players to make the all-tournament team. Joining her were freshmen Chloe Cardenas (fifth, 88) and Natalie Cowan (ninth, 95) and junior Rebeca Leonard (seventh, 93). Michaela Pangburn’s 104 rounded out East Union’s team score.
McKenna Doyle ended up with the fourth lowest score with an 85 to pace third-place Sierra. Manteca’s Katie Hankins (99) and Isabella Garcia-Mendez are among the six individuals not part of qualifying teams to advance to the divisional tournament. The Buffaloes placed sixth in the league tournament with a 565 score.