STOCKTON — The San Joaquin Section Masters Championships at The Reserve at Spanos Park proved challenging for two local golfers.
Freshman Gabbi Ilardi of Ripon High and East Union High junior Melinda Amick experienced their woes in this postseason girls golf event consisting of the top teams and individuals advancing to the Northern California championships.
Ilardi and Amick were playing at this level for the first time, with their respective coaches — the Indians’ Eric Dambrosio and the Lancers’ Dennis Wells — believing they’ll benefit from this experience.
“She’s only going to get better,” said Dambrosio of Ilardi, who carded an 83 on the par-72 18-hole course.
Wells praised Amick’s hard work over the past year, resulting in her getting to this point. She had rough start at The Reserves, rebounding to finish with an 86.
“I played almost every day including some junior tournaments (over the summer) with no days off,” said Amick, who has been playing golf for the past six years.
Ilardi has been playing the game since she was about 11 years old. She struggled on No. 18 and No. 11 at The Reserves.
“I know my (golf) skills — it’s the mental game that I’m looking to improve,” Ilardi said.
Another freshman turned in the top score at the Masters. Amelia Garibaldi of Lodi shot a 2-under-par 70 to earn Medalist honors. More importantly, she punched her ticket to the upcoming NorCals at El Macero Golf and Country Club in Davis.
Ellie Bushnell led first-place Granite Bay (372) by firing a 72.
Breanna Preap of Bear Creek — she along with Garibaldi, Ilardi and Amick were among the individual competitors in the Masters — took third with a 73.
Three players were locked in a playoff for the two remaining individual spots for NorCals — Tess Fernandez of Whitney, Nikki Chindavong of Rodriguez and Allyson Yee of Davis shot identical 74s on this crisp clear day.
Rocklin (409) and Vista Del Lago (420) will join Granite Bay at NorCals.
As for the locals, Ilardi is coming off an impressive first year. She was the Valley Foothill League North Division Player of the Year and San Joaquin Section Division V individual champion.
Mikaella Manto of Sierra High, the Valley Oak League MVP, also qualified but withdrew.