2011-04-28 / Sports

Warrior golfers on the warpath

Westlake boys take lead in Marmonte finals
By Eliav Appelbaum


FINDING THE RIGHT LINE—Warrior sophomore Brandon Kelley sizes up a putt at Los Robles Greens. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers FINDING THE RIGHT LINE—Warrior sophomore Brandon Kelley sizes up a putt at Los Robles Greens. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers These Warriors take no prisoners.

They plunder from the weak and ravage the countryside.

If this sounds like a summer blockbuster featuring international superstar Nicolas Cage, it’s not. This is about golf— big-time golf.

The Westlake High boys’ golf team has ransacked the competition this season, entering Wednesday’s bout against Agoura 14-1 overall and 12-1 in Marmonte League matches.

After two days of the fourround Marmonte tournament, the Warriors have a 24-stroke lead on second-place Royal.

Senior captain Tyler Soosman worked out the kinks in his game at Westlake Golf & Country Club on Tuesday, an off day for the Warriors.

Soosman must practice because 11 other varsity players are ready to move up the ladder.

Not only do the Warriors beat up other teams, they’re trying to beat each other up for a chance to earn playing time.


BUNKER BLAST—Westlake High freshman Sean Crocker hits out of the sand during the first of four Marmonte League golf events. 
RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers BUNKER BLAST—Westlake High freshman Sean Crocker hits out of the sand during the first of four Marmonte League golf events. RICHARD GILLARD/Acorn Newspapers “It’s honestly really competitive,” Soosman said.

“Not only are we trying to work together as a team, but we’re at each other’s throats because we’re so close in score.”

Westlake finds a way to make it all work.

“ It’s about balance,” said Soosman, who will study business at Cal State Channel Islands this fall. “You can’t let it get to you even though it’s in the back of your head. You can’t make it the primary focus.”

Soosman, who’s shot a seasonlow round of 72 three times, worked on his putting Tuesday. The senior’s improved his ball striking this season.

During the second round of the league tournament at Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark on April 14, Soosman carded a 76.

“I’ve been struggling with putting,” the senior said. “I had five three-putts (at Tierra Rejada). It’s a little frustrating. I’m trying to get that down so I can shoot even better.”

While some squads might have one or two standouts, everyone shoots well for Westlake.

“We have a little more depth than other teams,” said first-year head coach Rick Naranjo.

Leading the way are two standout underclassmen.

Brandon Kelley, a sophomore, and freshman Sean Crocker are experienced, tough golfers. Both Warriors have shot 68s at their home turf of Los Robles Greens Golf Course in Thousand Oaks.

They possess one ingredient that can’t be taught.

“ Determination,” Naranjo said. “They have just unbelievable practice ethics. They’re continuously practicing every day and going to different places.”

Brock Drogosch is currently Westlake’s No. 3 golfer. The sophomore nabbed a 68 at Los Robles during the first round of the Marmonte tournament April 12.

“He’s got a positive attitude,” the coach said of Drogosch. “Even if he has a bad shot, he’s able to shrug it off.”

Soosman has offered consistency at No. 4. His scoring average is 77.5 per 18 holes.

“His positive attitude and team leadership have been significant,” Naranjo said of Soosman. “He’s the one who’s always cheering the other guys when they come in.”

Tim Snyder, a senior, is also consistent. He has a 78.3 average. He also works hard at track, attending multiple practices a week in both spring sports.

Junior Brandon Shaw has a 78.1 stroke average. He’s another solid player who bolsters the lineup.

Michael Ondrejko (77.7 scoring average), Michael Dansey (78.1) and Kris Hopkins (78.9) would start for any other Marmonte school.

Sean Stephens, Matt Weitz and Alex Bale, all seniors, add depth. Every student-athlete has contributed to wins this season, the coach said.

“I’ve just enjoyed getting to know the kids,” said Naranjo, who last coached varsity boys’ golf in 1979 for Mammoth High.

Naranjo was the offensive and defensive line coach for Calabasas varsity football last fall.

A teacher and administrator for 40 years, Naranjo was an assistant principal at Calabasas and Agoura high schools for a decade before retiring in 2008.

Naranjo led Crespi’s varsity golf team to CIF-Southern Section runner-up finishes in 1973 and ’74. He coached football, golf, boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball in a 25-year span at Mammoth. He won a section title in volleyball, leading the girls to 15 league titles in 16 seasons.

Although it’s been 32 years between golf head coaching gigs, Naranjo’s found a niche with Westlake.

“ It’s just like old times,” he said.

Now the Warriors want to make a deep postseason run.

“We want to go as far as we possibly can, hopefully to state,” Soosman said.

“It might be a challenge, but if we are all consistent and on our games, we should be able to do it.”

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