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Eagles are all they’re after

By: Joshua Ansley Journal Sports Writer
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Cherie Nixon is just like any other giggly senior from Del Oro, laughing and joking with teammates before she steps on to the golf course. On the course, however, she is all business. The smile leaves her face and the golf ball is at the mercy of her powerful swing and steady short game. Nixon currently holds the second best average on this season’s Del Oro High girls golf team, with a nine-hole average of 42. Just last Thursday in a match at Sierra Pines against Woodcreek, she shot a 40. Nixon has become part of an elite company of players, which include her teammates, senior Bailey Furgeson, who is averaging a 40, and senior Alexis Jenkins, averaging a 48. The three seniors are spearheading this year’s Del Oro girls golf team after playing on the team that won the Sierra Foothill League Championship in 2009. Although the Eagles are currently 6-5, they have won three out of the last four matches. Coach Hal Steinbeck said the team has shown significant improvement as the season has progressed, particularly in the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions, where he said matches are typically won or lost. The four girls who usually play in one of those three positions are Michelle Tassinari, Jodi Finkelstein, Robyn Gillum, and Alexandria Duke. Steinbeck said the four were inexperienced at the beginning of the season but have continued to play better and better. “They have really responded well,” he said. Last week the Eagles defeated Woodcreek with the match all tied up from players one through five. It was Finkelstein playing at the sixth spot who put in a final putt to win it for them. Steinbeck said that victory is a sign that the Eagles are in good shape moving forward seeing that Woodcreek has one of the best teams in the SFL. As for the top three performers on the team this year, Steinbeck said their stellar play hasn’t been too surprising. “They performed real well last year so I knew what I was getting with them,” he said. Now that Steinbeck has been retired from teaching for the last three years he said it has been great to be able to remain coaching. Steinbeck has been coaching boy’s golf at Del Oro for the last 12 years and girls golf for the last seven. Furgeson and Nixon, who have both been golfing for Del Oro since their freshman year, said where Steinbeck has really helped both of them is in course management, which involves being smart on the course and focused on placement. Other than that, the girls said he is careful not get to too much in the way of their concentration once on the course. While Furgeson leads the pack with an average score of 40, both Nixon and Jenkins have shown they are not far behind. Nixon’s 40 helped the Eagles keep pace with Woodcreek, and Jenkins shot a season best 43 at Sunset Whitney earlier in the season. Both Jenkins and Furgeson seem to play their best at Sunset Whitney. It was also the location where Furgeson recorded a 36 earlier in the season. Nixon said she can be very competitive depending on the situation, as opposed to Furgeson who she said is a constant competitor. Their differences in personality may be part of the reason that they get along well and don’t really concern themselves with who has the better score. “We both just want each other to do well,” Furgeson said. Nixon and Ferguson will most likely move on to the individual playoff rounds if the team is unable to advance, but if everyone continues to play as well as they did against Woodcreek it should turn out to be another great season for the team.