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Hawks, Bulldogs strive for success in girls golf
Newcomer Amelia Daoheung (pictured left) and veteran Emily Almanza will be relied upon heavily this fall as key members of Central Valley High Schools varsity girls golf team. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High's varsity girls golf program will look to continue its run of excellence this fall.

Central Valley will strive to experience a breakthrough season.

"Our coach has high expectations for us," said junior Alexandra Potts, No. 1 player for the Bulldogs. "We should be good enough to make playoffs this year."

"We'll get what the girls put into it," Hawks head coach Kelly Wheelock said. "If that (making playoffs) happens, great. We just want to be competitive."

Central Valley's roster consists of a mix of veterans and newbies.

Emily Almanza (Sr.), Fiona Gay (Sr.) and Paulina Diaz (Sr.) are returners.

Almanza and Gay have been playing golf for the Hawks since the ninth grade.

Diaz, a third-year member, took last season off.

Jennifer Ramirez (Sr.), Sylvia Villegas (Jr.), Esmeralda Lopez (So.), Alondra Bustamante (So.), Fernanda Mercado (So.), Nadia Arranda (Fr.) and Amelia Daoheung (Fr.) are first-year players.

"Our senior leadership is really good," Wheelock said. "They've been playing golf for a while. They know the system. They're competitive. I got some underclassmen that hit the ball pretty well. That's exciting."

Daoheung, Central Valley's top player, was in Wheelock's eighth-grade P.E. class at Cesar Chavez Jr. High.

"We would talk golf," Wheelock said. "She was nonchalant about it. One day, I had her take a hockey stick and swing at a puck, Right then, you could tell she had a natural, effortless golf swing. If she puts in the work, she can be one of the better players. She has the tools to be as good as (former Hawk standout) Janita Vongphoumy."

Ceres High will compete with a revamped roster as four-year starters Hannah Smith and Monika Ramirez were lost to graduation.

Rose Sammons, a third starter, opted not to play this year.

The Bulldogs also have a new head coach.

Brandon Dunn replaced Randy Cerny, who stepped down at the end of the 2016 season.

"Having a new coach is good because you learn different aspects of the game," Potts said. "He has a lot of experience. He's played golf for so many years."

Ceres High accumulated 63 victories and just 19 losses in Western Athletic Conference play, won one league title and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs seven years in a row under Cerny's guidance.

"When Cerny sees me at school, he still asks how the team is doing," Potts said. "He gives me positive feedback."

Potts, Ariana Medina (So.), Bailey Showen (So.), Izabell McMurray (So.) and Benia Torres (Fr.) will try to help the Bulldogs secure their eighth straight playoff berth.

Potts and Medina are returning starters.

Showen, McMurray and Torres are new to the team.

"We're going to continue it (the streak)," Potts said.

Central Valley fielded its first-ever varsity girls golf team in 2015.

The Hawks have yet to qualify for team playoffs.

"If we can get to .500 or above in the standings, I'd be happy with that," Wheelock said. "That's a realistic goal."

Ceres High and Central Valley placed second and sixth, respectively, in the 2016 WAC overall standings.

The Bulldogs and Hawks compiled 8-2 and 2-8 records, respectively, during the conference dual season.

Ceres High has won its last 12 matches versus Central Valley dating back to the 2011 season.

"There's no bitterness," Wheelock said. "It's a friendly rivalry."