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PAUL BERSEBACH, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
San Clemente golfer Isabella Seeburger hits out of the sand trap at the El Niguel Country Club in Laguna Niguel during their match with Dana Hills

Freshmen give San Clemente bright future

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

In all the years that Mike Hurlbut has been coaching, he has never tried anything like this before, so he really didn't know what to expect out of the Tritons this girls golf season.

"But they could get the ball airborne off the tee, Hurlbut said, "and they could score."

That proved to be enough for him to decide to give youth and inexperience a shot and carry four freshmen on the roster. The most he had ever had previously on either his boys or girls teams at the school was three.

"We were just thrilled when we saw some beautiful golf swings," Hurlbut said. "They are legitimate varsity contenders, and that is not something you usually see out of freshman."

Throughout the season, Sarah Duncan, Isabella Seeburger, Juliet Duralde and Madi Wiedeman, played a key role on the team, rotating through the No. 2 and No. 6 spots, meaning they saw plenty of time on the course and routinely figured into the final score.

But a couple of times, Hurlbut got to see their potential, and it happened while facing some of the best programs in Southern California during two of the most competitive tournaments on the girls golf schedule.

San Clemente finished 10th at the Rainbow Sandals Lady Tritons Invitational, which was quite an improvement over last fall's performance, considering the Tritons finished last in the 19-team field.

And then earlier this month, San Clemente placed seventh in the 21-team Long Beach Wilson Bruins Invitational with Seeburger posting the second lowest score for the Tritons that day at Recreation Park Golf Course, a 10-over-par 84. In that tournament, the Tritons beat Los Alamitos, Santa Margarita, Aliso Niguel and University, which have all spent some time in the county Top 10 this year.

Occasionally, though, they showed their age showed, posting scores in the high 220s to low 240s. It takes nine-hole scores in the 190s to be considered a CIF championship contender.

"Right around the middle of the season, we hit a lull and hit the wall because they are freshman and they have not played this much competitive golf over such a short period time," Hurlbut said. "They are learning the whole process from keeping a scorecard to adding it up at the end and what these events mean."

In the South Coast League championship this week, Hurlbut said his freshman didn't understand that it was an individual event, and that there would be a cut that would eventually determine who made it to the CIF-SS Individual Regional. All four freshmen got a tee time in the first round of the tournament on Monday at San Clemente Municipal Golf Course. It took an 89 to make it to Tuesday's final round. None of Hurlbut's freshman, however, could do better than a 91. San Clemente saw only one player move on – its veteran sophomore leader Alex Cooper. She carded a 6-over-par 79.

During the offseason, Hurlbut said he is going to sit down with the freshman and come up with a plan on how to get to the next level, so they are aiming to post scores in the high 30s during a nine-hole match, not the mid 40s.

"If we can make a run at the league title (next season) and maybe go into the CIF team regional thinking we could be a top four advancer (to the championship tournament) that would be good" Hurlbut said. "I would expect that by 2014 we could be right back there in the mix where we were eight or nine years ago."


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