The La Cañada High girls' golf team couldn't have asked or dreamed for much more in its inaugural 2010 season.
And now, the Spartans are looking to improve on last year, when they went 13-0 as a freelance squad. La Cañada also advanced to the first round of the CIF Southern Section team playoffs and sent two players, Jennifer Kim and Melissa Leo, to the CIF Individual tournament.
"The girls talk about [last year]," La Cañada Coach Rich Wheeler said. "It means a lot to them. We have something to work for here. We aren't going to let this slip away."
La Cañada is in a good position to move forward, as the team returns five of its top six players from last year: seniors Caitlin Perry and Shannon Lee; juniors Kim and May Lo and Leo, a sophomore. Kaylie Besos, a freshman, also stands to make an impact on varsity this year, Wheeler said.
"Our top kids have been playing every day and that's important," said Wheeler, who's coaching La Cañada, along with Richard Tetu, for the second year.
The road to CIF is paved differently for the Spartans this year, as they join the six-team Pacific League, which also includes Arcadia, Burbank, Burroughs, Crescenta Valley and San Marino. The top four teams and seven individuals in league receive automatic playoff berths.
It's a nice change of pace for the Spartans, who had to apply for an at-large bid as a freelance squad in 2010. Wheeler also thinks playing for a league championship will give his team some extra drive in the regular season.
"Our league was pretty happy to have us and we are happy to be here," Wheeler said. "It's good for us. We are excited, but we are going to have a tough schedule."
Despite the tough competition, Wheeler sees his team locking up a playoff spot.
"The numbers tell us we should be the third or fourth team in the league and with a stroke of luck maybe we can break that," Wheeler said.
Wheeler doesn't want his squad to get ahead of itself, though. He wants his team to approach the season like any golf swing.
"You can't let what happened in the last swing affect your next swing," Wheeler said. "It's the same thing with the season, you got to take it one game at a time."
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy will look to rise in the Mission League after finishing sixth last season.
The Tologs return three-year varsity athlete Yu Jung Kim, the team's lone senior. Sacred Heart will also return sophomores Katie Hartwig, Presley Maran and Raleigh Scharre.
Sacred Heart Coach Bill Sanchez said the Tologs will strive for improvement when being tested in league.
"With Yu Jung and Katie, they'll try to shoot in the low 40s," Sanchez said. "We've got a pretty young team, so we are looking to stay positive and keep working hard."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun