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BOYS' GOLF

Sunset Race Shaping Up As One To Watch

April 10, 2001|PETER YOON

The Sunset League figured to be a tight race this season with Huntington Beach and Esperanza returning solid teams, but nobody could have guessed it would be this close.

The Oilers (4-1 in league) have a one-match lead over Fountain Valley and Marina. Edison and Esperanza are two back.

Los Alamitos has only one league victory, but it came against first-place Huntington Beach. But the tell-all of how close things are comes from a quick glance at Fountain Valley's results.

The Barons' first six matches have been decided by five strokes. They lost by one each to Esperanza and Huntington Beach in their first two matches, defeated Los Alamitos and Edison by a stroke each, then defeated Marina by two.

"This league is up for grabs," said Fountain Valley Coach Don Terranove. "When you look at what's happened to us, we easily could be 0-5 or 5-0."

One club, in fact, separates Fountain Valley from first place.

In their match against Huntington Beach, the Barons finished three strokes ahead of the Oilers, but a Fountain Valley player was penalized four strokes for carrying 15 clubs in his bag, and they lost by one.

"It's been pretty crazy," said Bill Seckington, coach of three-time defending champion Huntington Beach. "Everyone is good. All six teams play well."

Fountain Valley may be the surprise of the bunch because of its youth. Sophomores Wogene Lee and Mike McCaig have emerged in a lineup that already included Ryan Peaselee.

But Huntington Beach, with three seniors in its top six, may have the advantage. Senior Andy Anderson has been the leader, with a 37 average. The Oilers have also received a boost from freshman Joey Benedetti, who has quietly become the No. 2 player behind Anderson.

"For the second half, I'm just hoping we can go 4-1 again," Seckington said. "If we do that, I think we'll win the league."

The league gets three automatic berths in the Southern Section playoffs and there are no wild-card entries in golf, meaning someone is going to be left out.

Perhaps an even closer race, however, will be the league individual tournament. Every team has at least two top-quality players but only the top six gain entry into the section individual championships.

"There could easily be individuals from six different teams that qualify," Terranove said. "I don't know if that's ever happened."

TOP GUN RETURNS

Nico Bollini of Servite, the 2000 Times Orange County player of the year, played in a match for only the third time last Wednesday, but he is back in the lineup for the rest of the season, Coach Tim Meagher said.

Bollini, the defending Southern Section individual champion, missed much of March, a whirlwind month in which he traveled twice to Argentina. He won the Argentine amateur March 11, then played the Argentine Amateur March 29-30.

When he wasn't traveling to South America, Bollini skipped matches so he could catch up on school work, but now that the jet setting is over, opponents can count on seeing Bollini in the lineup.

"He's back for everything from now on," Meagher said.

Which is good news for the Friars. Servite, which moved into the top spot in the county poll this week, is 3-0 with Bollini and 2-5 without him. On Wednesday, he shot one-under-par 35 and led Servite to a 186-190 victory over Serra League rival Santa Margarita.

"That was huge," Meagher said. "Our other guys aren't quite doing it every time out, but I don't think that's much of a problem with Nico around."

And as for the 5-5 start to the season? Meagher isn't too concerned about that either.

"We're 3-0 in league and that's what counts," Meagher said. "Basically, [the Santa Margarita match] was the start of our season. What's important is not our record at this point, it's what we do from here on out."

INVESTIGATION ONGOING

Southern Section Commissioner Jim Staunton said his investigation into Servite and Santa Margarita is nearly complete and he expects to make a ruling by the end of the week.

Staunton is looking into possible rules violations related to matches played by the two schools against Lake Highland Prep of Florida.

Servite and Santa Margarita may have violated a section rule that requires permission to play out-of-state teams and may be in violation of the section's 18-match limit.

STREAKING TO AN END

Villa Park entered the season with a streak of seven consecutive Century League titles, tied with Servite for most in the county. However, Foothill has the inside track on the legue title this year.

Foothill is 7-0 in Century play and holds a victory over Villa Park.

LOOKING AHEAD

The wild ride in the Sunset League continues this week as the teams face one another for the second time. Fountain Valley, which lost each of its first two matches by a stroke, looks to redeem itself. The Barons play Esperanza today and then meet Huntington Beach on Thursday . . . Woodbridge and Newport Harbor will take part in the Palm Desert tournament Wednesday at Cimmarron.

If you have an item or idea for the boys' golf report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at peter.yoon@latimes.com

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BOYS' GOLF TOP 10

Orange County Sportswriters' Poll

*--*

Pos. School League Rec 1. Servite (4) Serra 6-5 2. Santa Margarita (1) Serra 7-1 3. Capistrano Valley (5) South Coast 11-2 4. Huntington Beach (2) Sunset 10-1 5. San Clemente (6) South Coast 8-3 6. Brea Olinda (9) Orange 9-1 7. Marina (3) Sunset 10-2 8. Woodbridge (8) Sea View 9-2 9. Esperanza (7) Sunset 8-3 10. Aliso Viejo (10) Sea View 8-4

*--*

Last week's rankings in parentheses

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