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Freshman continuing EUs standard of success
East Union Highs Brooke Riley is the Manteca Bulletins 2012 Girls Golfer of the Year. - photo by CHRIS LEONARD/


• Angelique Cardoza, East Union senior: The No. 3 finisher in the VOL points standings capped a solid career by making the all-league first team for a third consecutive season and carding an 84 in the SJS Masters Tournament.
• Kimmy LaMar, East Union senior: Shared co-captain honors with Cardoza and helped lead the Lancers to a fifth VOL title and sixth SJS Division IV crown in seven years. Placed fourth in VOL Tournament with an 88.
• Sienna Starck, Ripon junior: The VFL North Division Tournament runner-up ended up No. 3 in the season-long point standings. Made all-league and qualified for the SJS Division V Tournament for the second straight year.
• Brittany Ugalino, East Union junior: Just how deep were the Lancers this year? Their No. 5 golfer, Ugalino, earned a spot on the All-VOL first team and placed seventh in the individual points standings.
• Jordan Vinson, East Union junior: One of three Lancers to finish in the top five (fourth place) of the VOL points standings, Vinson was terrific in the postseason starting with a runner-up score of 81 in the league tournament.
• Jenny Wickham, Ripon Christian senior: Two-time All-VFL North honoree led the Lady Knights to a team berth to the SJS Division V Tournament.

— Jonamar Jacinto

Brooke Riley had the type of season that many high school seniors would be satisfied with.

But she is no senior. And she was not satisfied.

“I really wanted to get to NorCals and it didn’t happen, so I was disappointed,” said the slightly-built East Union freshman, who was just as disappointed that the perennially competitive Lancers missed the cut as a team.

All in all, it was a not-too-shabby high school debut for Riley, who was low medalist in three out of four 18-hole tournaments and 12 out of 14 Valley Oak League dual matches. She cruised her way to Most Valuable Player honors in the VOL, and there was little discussion needed to determine who the Manteca Bulletin’s 2012 Girls Golfer of the Year is going to be.

“I wasn’t happy sometimes; I went through a rough patch for a couple of weeks. I got it figured out, so it was OK,” Riley said when asked about how she felt about her overall season.

Riley is out to conquer an unconquerable game, practicing at such a rate that even her coach, Dennis Wells, one who isn’t afraid to place high demands on his players, insists that she takes breaks.  And he doesn’t have to motivate her. Qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation/Northern California Golf Association Championship as a freshman? Well, she was close.

Riley carded the 10th best score in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament — a rock-solid 6-over-par 78 at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton. Look deeper into her round and you could understand why she left feeling unfulfilled. She was candid in speaking about a three-putt, a four-putt and two balls that dove into water hazards. Riley ended up five strokes shy of guaranteeing a NorCal berth, and her team placed fifth out of 14 teams but needed a top-three finish to advance.

“I felt like I was hitting it good, I just had a couple of errors that made the difference,” said the reigning champion of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV and VOL tournaments. Riley also won the Sierra Invitational with a one-over 73 at the familiar Manteca Park Golf Course.

She’ll no doubt have another shot at it in the future. Every one of the top-five individual placers in Masters is an upperclassman, and three graduate this spring. Two-time runner-up Kelsey Ulep of Whitney and Pleasant Grove’s Sarah Debnekoff are two juniors who will return as section contenders in 2013.

“All of my practice over the last couple of years has paid off so far,” Riley said. “I’m just going to keep working hard and try and get to state next year.”

And she hopes to bring fellow Lancers along for the ride. With All-VOL first-team players Brittany Ugalino and Jordan Vinson, both juniors, coming back there is a good chance of them repeating as conference champions for a seventh consecutive season and SJS Division-IV titlist for a seventh time in eight years.

“It was very fun,” Riley said of being a part of a golf team for a first time. “Everyone on the team was great and we had a good time. It was fun to have people you can practice with or just hang out with.”