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EUs Riley flirts with state title; top colleges in pursuit
Best of the Best state of her game

Ohio State is calling.

So is Northwestern.

Cal’s interest may create a rift in the Riley family, which counts a Stanford alum amongst its relatives.

Yes, golf’s glamour schools have targeted one of California’s glamour girls.

For the third straight year, East Union’s Brooke Riley is the Manteca Bulletin’s All-Area Girls Golf MVP after winning Valley Oak League and Sac-Joaquin Section Masters titles and contending at the CIF State Championships.

Riley finished third at the state competition, but walked up to the 18th green tied for the lead with her playing partner and eventual champion Sabrina Iqbal of Pioneer.

Faced with a tricky downhill putt, Riley pushed her ball wide and fast. The putt kicked off the lip of the cup and continued past, carrying her state title hopes with it.

The stumble at state hardly diminished another banner season for the Lancers’ ace.

The three-time Valley Oak League Most Valuable Player led East Union to its eighth straight league title, and grinded out a top-3 finish at the CIF/NCGA Northern California Regional tournament to clinch a second straight trip to the CIF State Championship.

“It was a successful season. With state and that four-putt fresh in my mind, you just have to take the good away from it,” Riley said. “It would be amazing to have that state title. I think it will always hurt just thinking about it, but you have to take the positives away from it.

“I’ve got to think about the good that happened before that. I was 3-under going into 18.”

Riley played in the red for most of the season.

She boasted a nine-hole scoring average of 2-under, and shot 5-under at Old River Golf Course in Tracy and 4-under at Oakdale Country Club during VOL matches. She shot a 75 at Manteca Golf Course to win the Sierra Tournament for the second time in three seasons, and shaved two strokes at the VOL Championships at Swenson Park.

More importantly, she took the reins of the Lancer program, guiding a young team back into the winner’s circle.

“As great as she is, her greatest legacy is what she has (inspired) everyone else to do. She does not take a day off. She’s the first one there and the last one to leave,” said East Union co-coach Brian Goulart, a regular playing partner in practice. “She’s just a great role model.”

How inspired were her teammates?

Riley wasn’t just the team MVP, as voted by the players, but its top practice player and most inspirational, too.

“That says so much about her character,” Goulart said, “and what people think of her as a person.”

Co-coach Dennis Wells said Riley has a humbleness about her that harkens back to another East Union all-timer.

“She takes a Will Brink approach – very humble about everything,” Wells said. “She brings up everybody; all the other players look up to her. Brooke inspires the others, which is the sign of a great leader.”

Like Brink, a redshirt freshman at UC Davis, Riley will take her game to the next level.

If you thought Riley’s unfortunate finish at state damaged her reputation on the recruiting trail, guess again. Interest in the East Union junior is at an all-time high.

Riley has narrowed her choices to Northwestern, Ohio State and Cal (in no particular order) and hopes to make her decision soon. She has made unofficial visits to Northwestern, Cal and Washington.

All four schools competed at the NCAA Division I Championship in May. Ohio State finished tied for seventh, while Northwestern, Washington and Cal were 15th, 17th and 22nd, respectively.

“It’s weird to think I only have one more season left,” Riley said.

She’ll look to make the most of that last season, too.

Riley doesn’t bite her tongue when it comes to her goals. She left a state championship on the 18th green at Red Hill Country Club in Rancho Cucamonga. She’d like to retrieve it.

She’s already begun preparation, identifying areas of improvement with Wells.

“A big thing I’ll be focusing on will be my lag putting. I’ve struggled with that recently. If I can get back to consistently having tap-ins that will save one or two strokes a round,” she said. “Tournament-wise, I want to get back to state next year and take home that first place title.”