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CV grad helps lead MJC golf to state title
Janita Vongphoumy

Central Valley High School grad Janita Vongphoumy didn't always enjoy playing golf.

Introduced to the sport at a young age, Vongphoumy felt compelled to follow in the footsteps of her older sisters.

"At first, I really didn't want to do it," Janita said. "I realized my parents were pushing me because they saw potential in me. I'm really enjoying the game now. The competitiveness makes me excited."

Vongphoumy realized some of her potential this fall by filling a key role during the Modesto Junior College women's golf team's record-breaking historical season.

The Pirates captured their first California Community College Athletic Association State Championship on Nov. 13 at Morro Bay Golf Course.

Modesto Junior College brought home a banner and trophy.

"It's a huge accomplishment," Janita said. "I hope it motivates newcomers to do the same."

The Pirates posted a two-day score of 633 (316-317) at state.

"There was a change in attitude for all of us," Vongphoumy said. "We stayed positive."

Modesto Junior College topped defending state-champion Sierra (637) by four strokes.
Santa Barbara (641) placed third.

"We didn't think first place would come into play," Vongphoumy said. "After the first day, we had a chance. I definitely saw some anxious faces on Sierra. They were nervous. Our short game was on point. We did a bunch of putting drills the day before our practice round."

Modesto Junior College took second behind Sierra at the 2017 NorCal and Big-8 tournaments.

"Getting first was definitely a change," Vongphoumy said. "Usually, we're runners-up. We had the most returning players this year. That was an advantage."

Vongphoumy led Modesto JC at state, finishing with a two-day total of 149.

She shot 74 the first day and 75 the second day.

Janita took seventh in the individual standings.

"Knowing it was my last year, I wanted to leave a mark," Vongphoumy said. "I wanted to showcase my talent and skill. Winning state adds to what I've been trying to create."

Janita (154) turned in the fourth-best individual score at the Northern California Regional Championship, staged Nov. 6-7, at Buena Vista Golf Course.

"Golf is such a difficult game," Vongphoumy said. "I definitely exceeded my expectations. In order for me to play well, I have to be a positive person. My mentality really changed this year. In the past, I'd get frustrated on the course. I'd dwell on bad shots. My focus was on my team winning."

Vongphoumy had a memorable two-year career at Central Valley.

She was named Western Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player twice.

Janita placed first at the WAC year-end and mid-season tournaments during both of her seasons with the Hawks.

A two-time Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament qualifier, Vongphoumy bested all competitors while claiming the title at the Division-IV Championships as a senior.

Janita's three older sisters also played golf.

Juliet was a standout at the University of Maryland.

"I've created my own identity in golf," Vongphoumy said. "A lot changed for me. I took the game more seriously. My mental game became stronger. I really don't think there are limits now."

Vongphoumy talked about the possibility of continuing her golf career at Cal State Bakersfield or Cal State East Bay.

"I'm not sure where I'm going yet," she said. "With help from my parents and coaches, I'll figure it out. I'm striving for a scholarship."

Vongphoumy enjoyed suiting up for the Pirates for the past two seasons.

"We had a great team," Vongphoumy said. "I'm going to remember playing beside a bunch of amazing girls."