By DAN GOLDMAN
Barring the highly unlikely, the Tioga High School golf team is about to crown its second Mountain Valley League Most Valuable Player in school history.
After finishing second in the Mountain Valley League points race the past two seasons, Timberwolves' senior Dan Monroe has an ironclad grip on first place with two events remaining in the regular season.
Monroe, The Union Democrat's Athlete of the Week, has captured 12 first-place finishes in Tioga's 16 matches (including a pair of first places and a second place last week), building a nearly insurmountable 10-point lead over Modesto Christian's Ty Caskey in the MVP race.
Monroe can join three-time winner Tim Craven on Tioga's MVP honor roll either on Thursday against Orestimba at Diablo Grande in Patterson or in next Tuesday's MVL Tournament at Stevinson Ranch in Stevinson.
"I've been the golf coach here for 12 years and we've had some great players, but (Monroe has) been the one that been most impervious to pressure," Tioga coach Gregg Bernheisel said of his four-year, all-MVL player. "He's always so steady and so mellow. I can never tell if he's made a birdie or a 10 on a hole."
Although Monroe can't equal Craven's MVP record, he has etched his name in the Tioga record book for lowest score at an away event (even par), is slightly ahead of Craven's record-low season scoring average (38.4 strokes per round to 38.8) and, with wins in the final two events of the season, can set a school record for most points in a season.
But as kind as the regular season has been to Monroe, he already has his eyes set on the postseason. Although he has never finished out of the top five in the MVL during his four-year career, Monroe has not been able to advance past the sub-section level, getting as far as losing in a playoff for a spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section Tournament as a sophomore.