By Jerry Hannula
Saddleback College Athletics
NAPA – The California Community College Athletic Association men's golf state championship will be decided on Monday, May 13, at the Silverado Resort and Spa and eight of the state's top teams will be battle for a shot at making history during the one-day, 36-hole event.
The Cypress College men's golf team captured its first men's golf state title a year ago and, this season, the Chargers won their first conference title in 43 years. But the odds are stacked against Cypress to repeat as state champions as there has not been a college win back-to-back state titles in men's golf since Long Beach City College did it during the 1972 and 1973 seasons.
It appears that Reedley College and College of the Canyons have the upper hand heading into the state championship. Reedley captured its first state title in 2016 and the Tigers recently captured the CCCAA Northern Regional by 13 strokes over regional runner-up San Jose City College (757-770). Reedley posted the lowest team score in both the morning and afternoon rounds at the Yolo Fliers Golf Club in Woodland, edging San Jose City by three strokes in the early round (376-379) and fought off a challenge from Folsom Lake College in the afternoon round (381-385). Fresno City College finished fourth at the regional (796) to qualify for the state championship event.
Folsom Lake College is one team trying to create its own history. The Falcons finished third overall at the Northern Regional (783) and will be looking to claim their first men's golf state title. If it happened last season for Cypress and three seasons ago for Reedley, it could happen this season for Folsom Lake but the Falcons will need to play their best golf of the season to earn this year's title.
College of the Canyons owns a state-record eight men's golf titles, including recent titles in 2013, 2015 and 2017. A basic law of symmetry has the Cougars already penciled in for the 2019 title, but stranger things have happened on the golf course. One of the Northern Regional favorites, Sierra College, posted a 392 in the morning round of the regional to finish third but blossomed to a 414 in the afternoon round to finish eighth for that round and sixth overall to miss the state championship cut by 10 strokes.
All of the other teams in this year's state championship have one state title to their credit except for San Jose City College with two titles. However, none of the players on the Jaguars' roster were alive when those trophies were hoisted (1982 and 1968).
College of the Canyons captured the CCCAA Southern Regional at the Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills with a five-man, 36-hole team total of 4-under-par 726. The Cougars had three players post scores of even-par or better in the morning round and four players shoot par or better in the afternoon. The morning throw-out score was a 1-over-par 73.
Mt. San Antonio (732) is a dark horse in this year's state championship and consistency will be key for the Mounties. Mt. San Antonio posted a team score of 13-under-par in the morning round but stumbled to a lofty 15-over-par 385 in the afternoon to finish six strokes behind Canyons. The Mounties won their only state title in 2005. Santa Barbara City College, which won its lone state title in 1997, was seven strokes back at 739 while Cypress finished fourth (740), edging out Orange Empire Conference foe Orange Coast College (741) by a single stroke.
Only 11 of the 60 players in last year's state championship have returned for another shot at an individual title, and only two of those players finished in the top half of the field a year ago. But a year's worth of experience should pay off for these returners. Reedley's Dylan Otto is the top returner, tied for 16th last year with a 36-hole total of 7-over-par 151. Oddly, Otto leads a group of four Reedley players returning for a second state title which is why the Tigers are one of the favorites to win this year's title. Myoung Kim of Orange Coast College tied for 29th last year and Kim will be joined by Pirate teammate Tyler Thurmond as individuals in this year's championship.
Cypress has a pair of experienced returners in Jay Chang and Dalton Davenport who finished 15- and 16-over-par at last year's state championship, respectively. Folsom Lake also has a pair of veterans in Max Menconi (13 over par) and Brandon Kelly (16 over par). Canyons, Mt. San Antonio and Santa Barbara do not have anyone with state championship experience on their rosters, nor do San Jose or Fresno.
The field of 60 players at this year's championship will play from the blue tees (6,793 yards) on the Silverado's North Course. Both a team champion and an individual champion will be crowned, along with team runner-up and third place trophies and all-state honors for the top six individual medalists.
Spectators are permitted to walk the course but are required to remain on the cart paths or in the rough and are not allowed to talk with the competitors.
Qualifying as Teams: College of the Canyons, Mt. San Antonio College, Santa Barbara City College, Cypress College, Reedley College, San Jose City College, Folsom Lake College and Fresno City College.
Qualifying as Individuals: Jacob Montes and Kyle Hazlett, Palomar College; Myoung Kim and Tyler Thurmond, Orange Coast College; Michael Ray and Nick Burns, Ventura College; Kyle Katz, Sierra College; Jonathan Tanihana, American River College; Garrison Chavez, Taft College; Mitchell Bynert, Monterey Peninsula College; Greg Wikoff, Modesto Junior College; Christian Guzman, San Joaquin Delta College.