Lady Falcons golf: Undefeated Champions!
The Lady Falcons completed an undefeated season, 22-0, the first time in school history. The team won the 2017 City Conference Championship for the second year in a row, shooting a team score of 402. The team is also the 2017 Western League Champion, capturing that title for the first time in school history.
The championship team consists of Kathleen Keomahavong, Napua Glossner, Ruhee Pandit, Mia Hernandez, Franchesca Garcia, Nikhita Gopal, Zoee Lynch, Hannah Matteson, Jolina Bui and Mia Roach.
This team is so loaded with talent that their head coach, Todd Wilson, chuckles when he talks about it: “We are REALLY deep,” he said.
Nikhita Gopal is the team captain. As the leader, she coordinates team activities and sets up the uniforms the golfers will wear for each match (they have four to choose from). Gopal is the team’s number 6 scorer.
“She has the ability to step up when she’s needed to step up,” Wilson said. “When it’s crunch time, she’s definitely somebody you want out there for your team. … When CIF comes around, she definitely shines and she’s a great leader.”
Kathleen Keomahavong is the team’s best scorer and she was the top scorer last year as a freshman. She placed fourth in city conference match play.
“Kathleen is one of those consistent golfers. It’s always in the fairway, it’s always on the green. Doesn’t really make any mistakes,” Wilson said. “She’s just very, very consistent. Nothing too fancy, but when she finishes, her score is better than anyone else.”
Sophomore Napua Glossner is the number 2 scorer on the team. She went to State last year and tied for 16th as a freshman.
“She hits the ball a mile. … She’s fun to watch,” Wilson said. “She’s the type that hits it further than any girl in the county. She’s going to be something special.”
The third best scorer on the team is Ruhee Pandit, who also competes in Junior World Championships and is ranked.
“She’s just a phenomenal golfer, too,” Wilson said. “She did really well in City Conference. I can’t wait to see her at CIF.”
Mia Hernandez is the team’s fourth leading scorer.
“She’s a fantastic athlete. I mean, on any other team in the county, she’d be their best player, but she’s number 4 on our team,” Wilson said.
Franchesca Garcia, the team’s number 5 scorer, is an incredibly steady golfer, according to Wilson.
“She’s another golfer that doesn’t hit it a real long way, but she just finds a way to score,” he said. “Very good short game. Very good kid. Doesn’t get upset. … If you get upset, you’re not going to play your best golf.”
The team was strong last year with the addition of the two talented freshmen, Keomahavong and Glossner, now sophomores. The Lady Falcons only lost two matches in 2016, both to Cathedral.
While Wilson jokingly attempts to take credit for the team’s success this year, he explained that he tries to emphasize the team concept, which he believes has helped the team gel as champions in 2017.
“I think it’s more that they’re really good. As a coach, I do a good job of promoting team … keeping them working together and pushing each other to get better. It’s easy in golf to take it individually and focus on yourself,” he explained.
Wilson said the 2017 team spends lots of time together. They go on outings, go out to dinner and have lunches together. They buy treats for each other every-other-Friday.
“I think that enhances their play. They are pulling for each other,” he said.
It goes without saying that it takes dedication and practice to become an undefeated team. The Lady Falcons practice at Stadium Golf Center in San Diego. Practices normally involve three stations. One station is a driving range, one is a putting green and one is the chipping area.
“I talk to the girls and get an idea of what they need to work on the most,” Wilson explained. “They’ll rotate and go probably 20 or 30 minutes at each station. Then I’ll go around with my assistants and we’ll help the girls with their short game or their driver or whatever they need help with.”
The SRHS girl’s golf program has both a varsity and junior varsity team. The JVs played once or twice a week this season. The varsity team played three or four times a week. Wilson said he tried to keep a busy schedule this year so he could make sure all 10 golfers on the varsity team would qualify to play in the City Conference Tournament.
The state CIF tournament is the next challenge this year, with the first round beginning later this week at Admiral Baker Golf Course for two days. Qualified teams take their six lowest differential golfers from their varsity team to the CIF tournament. The Lady Falcons are ranked number 3 in Division I, behind Rancho Bernardo and Mater Dei. Wilson said the SRHS girl’s team has never been in the top 10 before.
“We’re not too far behind,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting.”
The two lowest scoring teams will advance to the next stage of CIF competition held in Riverside, and 10 or 12 individuals will advance. After that, the CIF state finals will be held at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach.
To see more about SHRS athletics, including team updates, photos and videos, visit srfalcons.org.