The only thing missing from last year’s boy’s golf season was a glass golf shoe that could only fit Oakdale High golfer and current Modesto Junior College standout, Ryan Jones.
Jones’ Cinderella season took the Sac-Joaquin Section by storm when a postseason tempest suddenly transformed a golfer seeded only fourth in his own conference to the throne of section royalty.
Jones’ fairy tale began with a championship shoot at the conference meet, continued with Oakdale’s top score at the Division IV championships (which Oakdale won), and ended happily ever after when he stunned the section field with a 70-stroke score to earn advancement to the Northern California State Championships.
It’s a tough tale to top, and considering five of Oakdale’s top six golfers from 2012 are no longer with the team, it seems all but impossible.
But don’t count out Ian Stogdell.
The standout senior was Oakdale’s top performer during conference matches, though he never hit his stride in 18-hole tournament stanzas at the end of the year. The four-year star of the Mustang golf program is due for a little magic.
“Ian has big golf talent,” Oakdale coach Lee McGhee said on Sunday. “Getting him to have a good season is going to be important for him to showcase his talents and show what he can do.”
Stogdell couldn’t match the performance of reigning Valley Oak League MVP, Will Brink, during a showdown on Brink’s home course (The Manteca Parks Golf Course), but did shoot a solid 43 during a 237-210 loss to East Union on March 7 (Brink shot a 37).
Isaac Valdez, Nathan Lute and Logan Schultz each carded 48s in defeat while Justin Hoover shot a 50 and Daniel Licea a 51 for Oakdale. The scores prevented Oakdale from upsetting the clear VOL favorite, and kept Oakdale away from the win column after a disappointing 235-254 loss to Sierra on the same course on March 5.
Stogdell led Oakdale with a 46 in that match while Valdez and Hoover each carded a 47. Lute (50), Domenic Fauria (52) and Schultz (59) also turned in scores.
Sierra and East Union are both unbeaten in conference and overall play. The two teams expect to vie with Sonora for top positions in the league while Oakdale battles to be relevant a year removed from a third straight VOL and D-IV banner.
“Aside from three guys who scored for us last year (Stogdell, Valdez and Lute), we do not have a lot of match experience,” McGhee said. “Ian and Isaac were the only ones on the team who had even played Manteca before.
“Getting these first matches under their belt was a big step towards getting control as far as what it takes to be in a match and not be bothered by nerves.”
Valdez and Lute saw limited action last year as they played behind a deep collection of teammates. They appeared primed to join a solid group of returning golfers when the year ended, but reserve golfer Jacob Hastert left OHS for college-unit charter courses and conference stalwart Isaac Rellamas has yet to join the 2013 squad.
McGhee found his program depth suddenly awash in inexperience, but fresh faces to the lineup have proved more than capable.
Schultz has the inside track on home course advantage, considering his father, Rick Schultz, is the manager of the Oakdale Golf and Country Club. The sophomore proved his talents on the road with top-five scoring efforts in each of Oakdale’s away matches and should be heavily utilized going forward.
Licea (a San Jose transfer), Hoover, Fauria, Wyatt Hjelm and Dante Martin will also be key in rounding out Oakdale’s scores.
“Depending on how we progress and how other teams progress, we should be right there with any one of them,” McGhee said. “If we can get them all together and on the same page we should easily come close to the 220s and 230s.
“We have a lot of growing to do as a group.”
Oakdale hosted Weston Ranch on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. The team hosts Pitman today, March 13, at the OGCC.