Westlake High School wins 2014 CIF/CGA High School Boys Golf Championship
The Westlake High School boys golf team was waiting for their captain. The victory was sealed, the first golf state championship in school history, but senior Sean Crocker was still on the course, finishing up his final round as a high school golfer. As Crocker stood over his five-foot putt for par on the 18th hole at San Gabriel Country Club, his team behind him on the fringe of the green, arms around each other's shoulder, he took an extra second to savor the moment, closing his eyes and preserving the memory. As the putt snaked into the hole, Crocker's teammates let out shouts and claps as the victory became official. After the formality of handshakes was complete, the celebration began. Westlake High School had won the 2014 CIF/CGA State High School Championship.
Six teams and 12 individuals competed Wednesday in this year's high school state championship, which rotates every other year between Northern California and Southern California. Those in the field qualified by way of Regional Championships, which for Westlake occurred less than 48 hours before the start of the finals. But the Warriors were coming in hot, unexpectedly earning first-place in Regionals at Brookside GC despite captain Crocker getting DQ'ed, putting the remainder of the team's season in jeopardy.
"My eyes just started welling up because I knew there was a chance I'd never get to play as part of this team again," said Crocker of Monday's DQ. "I went inside and watched the scoreboard and just started seeing Westlake climbing towards the top. These guys have so much fight in them and never give up."
The rest of the team, comprised of one freshman and four sophomores, rallied behind their senior, ensuring their season and his career did not come to an end.
"Sean knows that we have his back," said sophomore Spencer Soosman. "The team has had my back before when I didn't play well, and same goes for every guy out here. We win as a team and lose as a team."
This week, winning as a team seemed to be the only option. Soosman and the rest of the underclassmen brought their solid play from Monday into Wednesday's state championship, with three of the six Warriors recording scores under par, a feat accomplished by only ten boys in the field. The result was a nine-stroke victory over Rancho Bernardo, which also finished as runner-up in this week's Regional. The Dublin Gaels claimed third place.
On the individual leaderboard, it was Justin Suh of Evergreen Valley High School in Northern California who claimed a state championship of his own, posting a 4-under-par round of 67. Suh, the 2013 Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year, had six birdies and two bogeys in his round. Trailing Suh by a stroke and tying for second place was Jimmy Castles of Bellarmine High School and Victor Ponte of Rio Mesa.