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East Union takes 3rd in Division III; Riley advances
East Union standout Brooke Riley envisions her next putt before setting the ball down on the 18th green at Manteca Park Golf Course. - photo by Photos by SEAN KAHLER


• SJS Division III Tourney Teams: Vista del Lago 467, Christian Brothers 468, East Union 479, Kimball 506, Inderkum 510, Sierra 525, River Valley 730.

• Top individuals: Beah Cruz, Christian Brothers, 74; Brooke Riley, East Union, 75; Emilee Hoffman, Vista del Lago, 77; Noor Ahmed, Vista del Lago, 82; Katrina Jacinto, Christian Brothers, 88; Monique Peterson, Inderkum, 91; Dylanie Donahue, Oakdale, 94; Sara Knepshield, Rio Americano, 94; Maddy Miller, Rio Americano, 95.

Vista del Lago and Christian Brothers players took turns taking pictures with their prizes on the 18th green at Manteca Park Golf Course.

Meanwhile, East Union stood outside the clubhouse, discussing what could have been and future expectations.

The Lancers placed third in Monday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Tournament, the team’s worst finish since the section went to an enrollment-based format in 2006. And it happened on their home course, no less.

Vista del Lago edged out Tri-County Conference rival Christian Brothers 467-468 to capture its first-ever section banner for girls golf. East Union tallied a 479 — 14 strokes off its total on the same course on Oct. 7 when it garnered the Sierra Invitational title for a seventh straight year.

Sierra also competed, placing sixth out of the seven qualifying teams with an overall score of 525. Manteca had two individual entrants. Only the top two teams and three individuals advance to next week’s SJS Masters Tournament.

“The score we shot today was one of our highest all year,” East Union co-head coach Dennis Wells said. “(Considering) what we had been shooting it was surprising. I think that’s what hurts more than anything is that I see so much potential in these young ladies. We just didn’t get the job done.”

East Union seized six of the last seven section championships in Division IV, but with four freshmen joining junior veterans Brooke Riley and Rebeca Leonard the coaches scaled back their expectations at the start of the season. After winning the Sierra Invitational and the program’s eighth consecutive Valley Oak League crown, they believed their Lancers were ready to break through at the section level.

“They’re all very disappointed right now,” Riley said of her younger teammates. “They don’t want to have this feeling again; they feel like they let the coaches and our tradition down a little. They are going to practice hard in the offseason and I do think they all want to get better and take back the title next year.”

Riley had what she called “a pretty off day.”

The 2012 Division IV low medalist ended up a stroke shy of individual winner Beah Cruz (2-over 74) of Christian Brothers. Riley started out 2-under through five holes but took back-to-back bogeys to end up even-par 37 on the front nine. She’d later bogey three straight on holes 15-17 to finish with a 75.

“Nothing was really clicking,” Riley said. “I’ve been putting well, but today it was a little off. My driver was off again so I have to sharpen everything in getting ready for Masters, because it’s tough to move on to NorCals from there.”

Riley is the Manteca area’s last golfer standing. She’ll be joined by Inderkum’s Monique Peterson (91) and Oakdale’s Dylanie Donahue (94) as individual qualifiers for Masters. Donahue beat out Sara Knepshield of Rio Americano with a par on hole 1 in a playoff for the third spot.

East Union freshmen Chloe Cardenas (96) and Natalie Cowan (97) were just a few shots away from possibly moving on. Leonard carded a 100, and Allie Tajii scored turned in a 111.

McKenna Doyle paced Sierra with a 98. Arlena Gavino (104), Kayla Wilson (105), Legacy Barnes (107) and Krystal Rayevich (111) rounded out the Timberwolves’ score.

Representing Manteca were Katie Hankins (96) and Isabella Garcia-Mendez (124).