Rocklin battles for a spot in postseason playoffs

Del Oro, Granite Bay looms big
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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LINCOLN _ A young but talented Rocklin High golf team has its work cut out for them if they are going to advance as a team into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs at the end of the regular season. With only two teams advancing from the Sierra Foothill League, the Thunder will have to find a way to get past both Del Oro and Granite Bay. However, if that doesn’t happen, it’s likely a couple players will advance as individuals. “I took three of my players last year as individuals,” said Rocklin head coach Tim Hurrianko. “We moved on individually but not as a team. We missed team by one point. That was kind of tough.” Last week, under cloudy skies at Turkey Creek Golf Club, the Golden Eagles emerged with a 14-stroke victory over the Boys in Blue. The individual matches were pretty even but Del Oro’s overall talent was too solid to overcome. Playing on their home course, the Eagles’ highest score was 41, five over par. “We’re all in the same league battling it out against each other,” said Hurrianko. “We talked about how this course is really tough if you get off the fairways; instead of worrying more about distance worry about keeping the ball in play.” Rocklin’s Blake Abercrombie and Michael Mencaccy are excellent players and dropped only a couple shots in their head-to-head matches. However, after that the Eagles’ depth just runs too deep. Del Oro’s coach Hal Steinback said he had over 40 players tryout for the team this season; most turned out for junior varsity golf. He attributed the increased interest in the game to the influence pro golfer Tiger Woods has had on young athletes looking for a sport. The Eagles’ Austin Smotherman had the low round of the day shooting a one-under 35. “Off the tee I didn’t miss many fairways so I gave myself opportunities to hit the greens and make putts,” Smotherman said. “Not all of them fell but I made some. Smotherman rolled in a 25-footer on the seventh green that put him on a path to break par. Mencaccy had the low round for the Thunder carding an even par 36. Both Mencaccy and Smotherman will be playing at the college level next year on scholarship. “I had one birdie and one bogey,” Mencaccy said of his round at Turkey Creek. “When you play with Austin you’ve got to hang in there. You know he’s going to go low so you just have to stay calm and keep your composure.” Keeping one’s composure is big in high school golf as young players can become easily frustrated. Having the game and control of a Smotherman or Mencaccy takes time. Both have dedicated a lot of time and energy into the game to get to where they are today. Hurrianko said high school golf is especially tough on some players because the teams play on public or private golf courses. Hurrianko said those courses scrutinize a player’s conduct as well as ability, especially the private courses. Hurrianko said his team was playing during an incident at Serrano Country Club, the home course for Oak Ridge High School. An unidentified player was overheard using profanity and a club member reported it. The Trojans’ coach had to quickly get the situation resolved or lose playing privileges at Serrano. Earlier in the week Rocklin hosted its Thunder Invitational at Whitney Oaks Golf Club. There were over 20 teams in the tournament and the Rocklin team placed sixth. However, Del Oro was first and Granite Bay fifth. The Grizzlies actually tied for third but a tie-breaker moved them to the No. 5 spot. “We’re going to compete for second or third with Granite Bay and Del Oro,” Mencaccy said as to his team’s chances in the SFL. “We’ve just got to play good and keep it up in those 18-hole matches.” The first league match is April 16 at Sierra View Country Club in Roseville. The SFL Championship will be held at Catta Verdera Country Club, May 1. The state championships are in June. Sierra Foothill League Dual Meet Turkey Creek Golf Club Del Oro 187, Rocklin 201 Rocklin Del Oro Blake Abercrombie – 39 Austin Smotherman - 35 Michael Mencaccy – 36 Justin Raskin – 38 Andrew Penney – 49 Bobby Mullen – 40 Andrew Castle – 44 Jahaan Nargussi – 36 Steven Ford – 40 Ryan Takayama – 41 Grant Zorich – 42 Louie Euer – 38 Thunder Invitational Tournament Whitney Oaks Golf Club 1. Del Oro 390 2. Jesuit 394 3. Oak Ridge A 396* 4. Christian Brothers 396* 5. Granite Bay 396* 6. Rocklin 398 7. Nevada Union 405 8. Ponderosa 414 9. Woodcreek 418 10. Oakmont 437 *Ties determined by scores on front nine