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Emerging Riley solidifies East Unions experienced lineup
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Fourteen-year-old Brooke Riley takes a hack on the driving range during East Unions practice at Manteca Park Golf Course Thursday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

Jim Riley was looking for a golf partner.

He found one in 12-year-old Brooke, his granddaughter.

“My grandpa had always wanted someone to golf with,” Brooke said. “I was the only one who wanted to so I started taking lessons when I first went out there.”

And there’s no stopping her now. No matter how much her coach encourages her to take a break.

“It’s so fun,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like work to me, I just love doing it.”

Riley is just a few days into her freshman year at East Union but is likely the best high school girls golfer in the Manteca area. And she joins a squad that is going after its sixth straight Valley Oak League championship and sixth Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV banner in the last seven years.

With Riley joining a veteran lineup, expectations are much higher for the next few seasons. Riley shrugs off the pressure. Then again she is still only 14.

“I feel like the junior tournaments have really helped me with my nerves, but I think I am going to be nervous in our first match,” she admitted. “I’m excited. It’s cool to have people to golf with and I can’t wait to start playing.”

Being a part of a golf team is still new to her, but she has certainly fared well alone. Riley placed fourth or higher in her last three Junior Golf Association of Northern California tournaments this summer.

Most recently, she carded an impressive 2-under-par 70 at Micke Grove Golf Links for a runner-up finish in the Micke Grove Junior Classic. Among the standouts she beat was Mabel Wong, (third place, 72), who ran away with the VOL’s individual title as a freshman last year.

Riley also won the Eric Leeworthy Memorial at Lockeford Springs golf Course and took fourth in the two-day Del Rio Bumgardner Junior Memorial at Del Rio Country Club.

She is going into her rookie prep season playing her best golf. At the start of the summer she was shooting in the mid to high 80s, but with improved touch on the greens her scores have dropped considerably.

Riley is the middle of a big breakthrough in her golf game, but she continues to fine tune every aspect of it.

“Her biggest thing is her willingness to put in the work in the summer,” said East Union co-head coach Dennis Wells, who gave Riley her first lesson. “She plays in junior tournaments and she’s out here eight to 12 hours a day. I’ve seen her out here from 8 in the morning to 8 at night.

“I’ve had to tell her to take some days off. But if you find a kid that you have to tell to go home, that’s the kid you want on your team. This is the one, and she has the talent, the ability and the desire to become the best golfer to ever come out of East Union.”