Buhach Colony junior Emie Ochoa admitted to early-morning jitters as he walked to the 11th tee, his starting point Monday for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Golf Championships.
He wasn’t alone.
Nerves, usually a sign of readiness, accompany all athletes at all levels before a big event. And this was big – the top tournament of the year in the section.
“Everyone is nervous going into something like this,” Ochoa said. “It wasn’t too tough out there, just a couple of bad shots.”
Buhach Colony, making its first Masters appearance in seven years, shot a 410 and placed 11th out of 15 teams who made it to The Reserve at Spanos Park.
Clearly, the Thunder put down markers for next year. The entire senior-less team will return for 2015. The improving Ochoa led Buhach Colony with a 79, and three-time All-Central California Conference selection Colton Freitas and Logan Koster each had 80.
The rest of the lineup included Alec Barajas with an 82 and Brandon Gordian and Shane Watts with 89.
Aside from the butterflies, Buhach Colony was in “happy-to-be-here” mode. The team that placed second behind Turlock in the CCC race shocked most observers by placing third – better than good teams in Johansen and St. Mary’s – at last week’s windy D-I South section tournament and earned the final team spot for Masters.
“We were congratulated last week on campus by people who normally wouldn’t say anything,” Buhach Colony coach Rich Cometta said. “We didn’t expect to be here, but we got here and had a good time.”
The wind, always the No. 1 point of concern at The Reserve, hardly rose above a breeze. Accordingly, scores dropped.
Granite Bay won the competition with a 365, and Jesuit (371) and Central Catholic (377) snagged the other team berths for the Northern California Championships next Monday at Sierra View Country Club in Roseville.
Four individuals not on those top three teams, led by tournament medalist Daniel Pena of Johansen with a 6-under-par 66, also extended their seasons. Hilmar star Landon Azevedo posted a creditable 1-over 73 but missed a playoff for a NorCal berth by three strokes.