The Lions topped the Wolverines 242-246 at Lone Tree Golf Course in Antioch last week. On the par 35 course, Wolverines junior Taylor Coover shot the low score – 40 – but the next three finishers all wore red: senior Lei Wei, 41, and sophomore Shelby Watkins and senior Marissa Apodaca, 47.
Though he was thrilled with the victory, Liberty head coach Josh Ellcessor believes his team is capable of much more, not just in the regular season but during the North Coast Section tournament.
“I think that we’re hanging in there and we’re doing a great job with some adversity as far as being able to finish,” Ellecessor said. “It’s been a great year. The kids have been working hard in practice and have continued to improve. … We’ve put ourselves in a really good spot to take league.”
Ellcessor, a fourth-year head coach, noted that the key to the Lions’ success this season has been a vital mix of youth and experience. Most of the athletes on his roster are seniors, but sophomore Watkins has proven herself to be a key part of both the present and the future.
Liberty returned one of its top athletes from last year, Wei, the reigning BVAL titleholder. Wei won the tiebreaker at last year’s league tournament and has been a steady force at the top for the Lions this season. Liberty also counts on solid contributions from Apodaca, who carded the low score in the Lions’ 220-252 victory over Freedom on Tuesday, and Morgan Hernandez, both seniors.
Wei felt that the victory over Deer Valley energized the team, showing Liberty that it can compete with the Bay Area’s best. “We think next time if we go against Deer Valley again, we’ll be even better,” Wei said. “We were kind of nervous, because it was really close. When they actually added it up, we had the expectation that we were going to beat them – we just didn’t know by how many strokes.”
Wei and the other seniors have been more than happy to provide guidance for Watkins, who has been playing the sport since she was 8. The sophomore decided to get a little more serious about the sport in seventh grade.
Ellcessor feels that Watkins has the talent to become one of the league’s best golfers before she graduates, but for now, she’s happy to learn as much possible from the upperclassmen.
“It’s really fun being around older girls who have been playing for a long time; it gives me a lot of confidence,” Watkins said. “I’m learning a lot more.”