Orange Lutheran junior Blake Barens poses with his second-place trophy after shooting a 5-under 67 on Monday at Victoria Country Club during the CIF-SS Individual Championships.

Barens finishes second in CIF-SS tournament


RIVERSIDE – It’s a place that only one other Orange Lutheran boys golfer has been before, one that puts Blake Barens on the verge of making school history.

Barens played the five par fives here at Victoria Country Club at 4-under par and finished in second in the CIF-SS Individual Championship on Monday, one shot behind Johnny Ruiz from Camarillo who won the tournament with a 6-under 66. 

Barens carded a 67 and earned a spot in the SCGA So Cal Championships at Brookside Golf Course in Pasadena on May 31 which helps set the field for the CIF State Championship.  

Should Barens move on out of the Brookside event, he would become the first Orange Lutheran player to make it to the most prestigious tournament in high school golf.

C.J. Gilman is the only other Orange Lutheran golfer to tee off at the SCGA tournament, but he posted a 74 in Murrieta on a day when it took a 68 or better to advance to state in 2005.

Ruiz, Barens and Brian Fong of Onatrio Christian were the only golfers in the 106-player field to break 70 at Victoria Country Club. Fong finished third with a 3-under 69.

Andre Vu (Fountain Valley), John Lee (Los Alamitos), Kyle DeSilva (Villa Park), Austin Amaya (El Dorado), Raymund Gonzales (Mission Viejo) and David Pelekoudas (University) all made the cut to advance to next week’s So Cal Championships.

“I am really happy that I played well for my school. It is a great school, and we are getting better at golf,” Barens said. “And this helps to put us on the map. Confidence-wise for me this really helps, too.”

But Barens didn’t always make it easy for himself on Monday.

After bogeying the 193-yard, par-3 16th, Barens’ drive on the par-5 17th landed behind a tree. He punched his second shot out of the rough just missing a branch that was hanging low in front of him. The ball ended up in the fairway and he needed just a wedge to make it onto the green. He rolled in his 5-foot birdie putt to go to 5-under.

A strong gusting wind in the afternoon made scoring difficult at times, and Barens watched his approach on the 18th fly over the green, landing about 30 yards from the pin. When he selected his club he was playing in to a headwind, but when he took his shot, he was suddenly facing a gentle breeze. Still, he managed to get up and down to save par.

“At the end there, the wind wasn’t consistent, and it was hard to gauge the distance,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a good shot. I didn’t think it was going to be over. But it was way over.”

Estancia senior Jake Knapp, who won a U.S. Open qualifier in Newport Beach last week with a 10-under 61, also had problems controlling his distance. He had 210 yards left on the 17th, but he hit a 4-iron about 20 yards farther than that, and his approach came to rest in the rough next to the 18th tee box. He bogeyed the hole to go to 4-over.

Knapp birdied the 18th to finish with a 3-over 75, and end up in a sudden death playoff with 10 other golfers. Only two of them would earn a spot in the So Cal Championships. At least that is what CIF officials told them at first. On the fairway of the second playoff hole, play was halted so the players could be informed that a 74 had been mistakenly entered into the scoring computer as a 79, so now only one spot was up for grabs.

But by that point, Knapp had been eliminated. His par putt lipped out on the first playoff hole, and it took a par to move on.

Matt Janelli (Marina) and Nate Noblitt made it to the second playoff hole, and they both carded a par. Thayer White from San Marcos holed a birdie, though, and earned the final spot in the SCGA tournament.

Knapp has been playing with a sore right shoulder for about a month, he said, and on Monday it was especially painful. And he took 12 ibuprofen tablets throughout the day.

The shoulder injury slowed down his swing, and he said he had to approach each shot “more tentatively,” so he had to club up on a few holes because he couldn’t accelerate through the ball like he normally does. That’s why he said he hit it long at times.
“No excuses though,” Knapp said. “I probably should have played better overall.”

He did drain a 15-foot birdie putt on the 486-yard par-5 14th to go to 1-over. But his approach on the 15th landed in a creek, and he eventually carded a double-bogey seven.

“I got an unlucky hop, and it bounced in the water. Then, I struggled around the green,” Knapp said. “That is the hole that really got to me.”

***     ***     ***


At Victoria Country Club, par 72, 6,517 yards, Riverside

(These players have advanced to the SCGA Co Cal Championships at Brookside Golf Course on May 31)

1.  Johnny Ruiz (Camarillo) 66, 2. Blake Barens (Orange Lutheran) 67, 3. Bradley Fox (Ontario Christian) 69, 4. Reilly McMahon (Righetti) 70, 5t. Jake Andl (Westlake) 72, 5t. Henry Chung (Cerritos) 72, 5t. David Kim (Mira Costa) 72, 5t. Storm Lee (Calvary Murrieta) 72, 5t. Ryan Odom (Santiago/Corona) 72, 5t. Andre Vu (Fountain Valley) 72, 5t. Dane Walton (Thousand Oaks) 72

12t. Alex Angard (Viewpoint) 73, 12t. Oscar Baek (Whittier Christian) 73, 12t. Harold Calubid (Long Beach Wilson) 73, 12t. Jonathan Chang (Valenica/Valencia) 73, 12t. Kyle DeSilva (Villa Park) 73, 12t. John Lee (Los Alamitos) 73, 12t. Thomas Lin (Moorpark) 73, 12t. Scott Shefflette (La Serna) 73, 12t. Matt Walling (Oaks Christian) 73,

21t. Autsin Amaya (El Dorado) 74, Rito Armenta (Los Osos) 74, 21t. Daniel Chian (South Hills) 74, 21t. Justin de los Santos (Chaminade) 74, 21t. Raymund Gonzales (Mission Viejo) 74, 21t. Drew Miller (Chaminade) 74, 21t. David Pekekoudas (University) 74, 21t. Sahith Theegala (Diamond Bar) 74, 28. Thayer White (San Marcos) 75*

*-won in a playoff

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