Johansen star Daniel Pena advances to Section Masters

ragostini@modbee.comMay 5, 2014 

— Sometimes, a bogey sparkles on the scorecard like found gold.

Johansen High School sophomore Daniel Pena liked the “5” he penciled on the par-4 10th hole Monday at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I South Tournament.

Check that: Pena loved that bogey. He rinsed his second shot into a greenside hazard, yet rolled in a 12-foot putt for the 5 that somehow propelled him forward at windy Elkhorn.

“Going out of the water and still making bogey settled the nerves,” Pena said. “It was just a tough day.”

Pena, the Modesto Metro Conference Championships medalist last week after his 68 at Creekside, minimized that mistake at the 10th. Energized, he confidently steered his way home in 1 under par the rest of the way for a 4-over 75, the day’s second-best score.

That’s why he’ll advance to the Section Masters next Monday at The Reserve at Spanos Park, another windswept venue not far from Elkhorn.

It figured that success was culled from adversity this day. Most of the field labored in the westerly wind that reached 15 mph during the opening nine holes. Beyer senior Matt Mensinger, the medalist at last year’s D-I South, struggled to an 81.

St. Mary’s, a perennial power, collapsed and was not among the three teams and six individuals to reach Masters. The day called for survival, flighting the ball beneath the gusts and patience.

Pena overcame his slow start and, after No. 10, birdied the par-5 11th and nearly aced the 163-yard 13th with a 9-iron en route to deuce. But during that closing eight-hole stretch, he got up and down four times for important pars. After Pena airmailed his approach 15 yards over the green at the 12th, he chipped into the bank and trickled the ball downhill to within a few inches.

“I didn’t start good, but I tried to fight through my round,” he said. “If the wind was against you or across, I had to adjust two clubs.”

So did everyone, of course, with mixed results. Lodi sophomore Brad Reeves cheated the breeze with his low-slung tee shots and holed a chip over a bunker for a birdie at the 10th. His reward was the medalist honor with a 2-over 73 as he carried the Flames to a three-stroke win over Lincoln for the team title.

The surprise of the competition was Buhach Colony, which sneaked into the third and final Masters team berth. The Thunder, the runner-up in the Central California Conference race behind 11-time champion Turlock, edged St. Mary’s and Johansen by two strokes. Buhach Colony pushed Turlock all season and even won the CCC tournament last week at Stevinson Ranch.

“I may weigh 280 pounds on a scale, but I’m walking on air,” Thunder coach Rich Cometta said.

Though no MMC or CCC teams earned Masters berths, players from those leagues collected all six individual spots. Enochs junior Timothy Yang dodged two double bogeys with six scrambling pars and a single birdie for 77.

“Chipping and putting,” Yang summarized. “That’s all it was.”

Also extending their seasons, all with 79, were Grant Plunkett of Johansen, Greg Jalli of Gregori, Carter Dewing of Modesto and Teo Chiesa of Turlock.

They agreed on one thing: Style points didn’t count.

Division IV at Manteca Park – Central Catholic certified its status as one of the top Masters contenders by coasting to the D-IV title. Nick O’Brien, one of three freshmen in the Raiders’ lineup, was the medalist with a 3-over 75, eight strokes better than his score at Manteca Park at last week’s Western Athletic Conference Championships. Central shot 384, 31 strokes better than runner-up Vista del Lago of Folsom.

The Raiders dominated with help from sophomore Matthew Robinson (76), junior Trey Wesenberg (76), freshman Michael Kelley (77), freshman Christopher Ebster (80) and junior Mac O’Brien (80).

Among the three individuals who qualified for Masters were Central Valley senior Anthony Bonales with a 76 and Sonora junior Serge Kiriluk with a 77. Kiriluk led the Wildcats’ march to a 14-0 record and a Valley Oak League title.

Division V in Marysville – Ripon edged Calaveras in a one-hole playoff for the D-V title at Peach Tree Country Club. The Indians and Redskins tied at 450, but Ripon prevailed 30-24 in the playoff for the only Masters berth. Bret Harte freshman Mitchell Menzes (78) and Hilmar junior Landon Azevedo (79) also advanced.

Nick Sharp paced Ripon by shooting an 80. Escalon, five strokes behind the co-leaders, placed third in the team competition. Hughson was fifth (520) and Linden sixth (526).

Division VI in Sacramento – Junior Egan Farrar shot a 75 to lead Turlock Christian, the 11-time reigning Southern League champion, to the D-VI title at Haggin Oaks’ MacKenzie course. The Eagles totaled a 426 and beat runner-up Ripon Christian, which lost to Turlock Christian by two strokes at last week’s Southern League Championships, by eight swings.

Ripon Christian’s Kyle Colyn, the medalist with a 73, will represent the Knights at Masters. Also advancing were Jimmy Williams of Highlands of Sacramento and Scott Gardner of Vacaville Christian, both with 77.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeSports.

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