Nthenya Maithya’s comfort zone is maximized when she stands on the tee, the ball sitting high on a peg, driver in hand.
“My driver is my best friend,” the Enochs High freshman said. “I like to hit the ball hard.”
Maithya, 14, shortened Creekside with booming tee shots Tuesday to accent the Modesto Metro Conference Girls Golf Tournament. Before the day ended, Maithya earned medalist honors with a 4-over-par 76 and led Enochs to the tournament title over league champion Gregori.
Enochs totaled 481 strokes, seven better than Gregori. Third-place Downey (535) will join the top two at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I-South Tournament next Monday at Stockton Country Club.
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“It was a good test today to see where we stood,” Enochs coach Matt Doyle said. “When we realized we couldn’t win league, we set a goal to win the league tournament.”
Enochs, which saw its three-year run of MMC league titles end this fall, responded in a big way. Gregori swept to a 12-0 dual-meet record in the conference, topping Enochs by 10 and 34 strokes along the way. But the Eagles were minus the Maithya tandem – Nthenya and senior Mbeneka – in the lopsided rematch. When Enochs was at full strength on Tuesday, it asserted itself.
Mbeneka posted an 80 to form a one-two punch with her sister, but Nthenya clearly was the class of the field. She says she can reach 250 yards with her tee shots, and no one at Creekside disagreed.
She spiced her round with three birdies, all on par-5s. Better still, she hit the 13th and 16th greens in two shots, resulting in impressive two-putt birdies. Well-struck drivers and 3-woods accomplished the task.
“My 3-wood is not my best, not as good as my driver,” Nthenya said. “But it was good today.”
That said, the best club in her bag at Creekside was her resilience. She overcame a discouraging 8 at the par-4 ninth by playing even par on her back nine. Her extensive experience in Junior Golf Association of Northern California play last summer no doubt worked in her favor.
“There is more pressure in those junior tournaments,” Maithya said. “It helped me a lot.”
Doyle traced his team’s progress to gradual improvement.
“We played to our potential today, even if it wasn’t our best,” he said. “The girls were ready for it and were confident. You saw it lately in their play and how they practiced.”
Gregori coach Bradd Stewart saluted his team, especially junior Lindsey Martin who recorded an 82, her personal best at Creekside.
“The season went well for us, but Enochs has the two best players in the league,” Stewart said.
Joining the MMC’s top three teams at the divisional next week are individual qualifiers Natalie Ward (93) and Zoe Statzer (108) of Beyer and Shanaya Sibonga of Grace Davis (106).