One thing that separates the Sonora Wildcats boys' golf team this season from year's past is depth.
Although Sonora golf coach Steve Lee sat four of his usual starterson Monday, the Wildcats were still able to top Atwater 237-262 in a non-league match at Mountain Springs.
Sonora senior Kade Barajas shot a team-best 44 and Billy Kiriluk, the only starter that remained in Monday's lineup, carded a 45. Both juniors Tyler Hammond and Austin Serva fielded a 48 and freshman Hank Kolpak added a 52.
"I actually had five guys who don't normally play in the tournament play today," Lee said. "I have 12 players (on the roster), so I tried to put in a lot of kids in there that hadn't had a lot of playing time. I knew it would be a good time to get some people in there who haven't been able to play yet. I have probably six kids who are constantly battling for the four-five-six spots."
Lee sat out veterans Spencer Morse, Ethan Farwell, Brandon Phelan and Sam Mays in order to give his less experienced golfers an opportunity to play under pressure.
"It's a little bit different to perform when your under pressure instead of practicing," Lee said. "It was a good learning situation. Nothing like competing. I was able to play two freshmen. I'm really pleased that we got this match in and we got some chance for the kids to participate."
For Barajas, this marked his first time he competed this season.
"A 44 the first time out is a good score," Lee said. "He just played very consistent for only being out a few weeks since the end of basketball season."
Despite earning the win, shooting above 230 is nowhere near where Sonora wants to be. If the Wildcats want to contend for a Valley Oak League title, they are going to need to shooter better, especially at home.
"We need to be down in the low 210s," Lee said. "We need to be consistently below the 210s. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to do that with the depth and talent that we have. This team has not played as well as they've wanted as a team. We've had some good individual efforts, but we're still waiting for the team to really gel. I think that's going to happen in the next few matches or so."
Atwater's Gilbert Rodriguez earned medalist honors with a 42.
Sonora (3-0, 2-0 VOL) will host Lathrop today at 3 p.m. Farwell, Kiriluk, Mays, Morse and Phelan are all expected to be back on the course for the team's third VOL match.
"Those are all quality players and veterans who have been out there before and know how to take care of business," Lee said.