Newcomers such as freshman Jacob Hernandez, sophomore Joe Castle and senior Nick Vargas have made the transition much smoother. Now, Beaver and some of the team’s more experienced players see great things in their future.
“They’ve blown my expectations right out of the water,” said junior Alex Miller. “Coming in, I didn’t know half of the teammates or what kind of players they were, but they’ve done really well. I love having them as teammates.”
Such enthusiasm is based partly on the balance achieved in this season’s roster. In past years, the Lions’ success was dependent on seniors such as Krey and other top players. Although some of those players are gone (junior Garrett Murayama – a first-team all-leaguer last season – remains), the lineup is solid from top to bottom.
“We’re more well rounded,” said senior Austin Kaiser. “We’re all good friends and play very well together.”
Ironically, this year’s positive experiences have come in tough losses and tournaments against good teams on top courses. The Lions took their lumps in those events, but Beaver believes those experiences have helped and will continue to help the team when it plays on layouts close to home.
“We’ve learned from our experiences this year,” Beaver said. “We’ve played good teams on tough courses in wicked conditions, but that’s helped us now as we’ve gotten back to some of the local courses that we’re more familiar with.”
Hernandez agrees. Although only a freshman and not accustomed to competitive golf, he believes he and the team’s other underclassmen have matured. “Everyone here has potential and we’ve gotten a lot more solid,” Hernandez said. “We’re just getting used to more competitive environments and focusing. That will help us come through with everything.”
Those experiences have helped the team in other tournaments. On Monday, the Lions played a tournament at Stevenson in the Central Valley and earned a respectable seventh-place finish. Another notable performance there was that of Heritage, which won the whole thing.
The Lions have circled three other dates. One is April 3, when they tee it up against Deer Valley, which has already beaten them 202-220. After that, they look toward matches on April 12 and 24 against the Patriots. Beaver believes his team can manage at least a split.
“They just need to focus on their rounds and not worry about what other people are scoring,” Beaver said. “They just need to draw from experience and help each other out. It can happen if they trust each other, and trust their own swings.”