Bret Harte boys golf team claims back-to-back MLL and Division V section titles

rooz Bret Harte boys golf team claims back-to-back MLL and Division V section titles image

Bret Harte boys golf team claims back-to-back MLL and Division V section titles Mitchell Menzes wins league MVP and section medalist honors By Guy Dossi Courtesy photo
The Bret Harte boys golf team celebrates with its blue section championship banner.
For the majority of the 2017 season, the Bret Harte High School boys golf team was part of a crowd at the top of the Mother Lode League standings, but in a five-day span the Bullfrogs set themselves apart.
Bret Harte entered the end-of-season MLL tournament on May 4 as part of a three-way tie for first place with Calaveras and Sonora. Playing on their home course at Greenhorn Creek Resort, the Bullfrogs shot a five-player score of 470 to finish 20 strokes better than second place Sonora and win a second straight league championship.
The winning did not stop there. On Monday, May 8, Bret Harte headed to Sacramento for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championships. Behind a 1-over-par 72 from senior Mitchell Menzes, the Bullfrogs successfully defended their 2016 Division V section title to claim a coveted blue section championship banner in back-to-back years.
“This year was really special because of the way we did it and the way our kids improved as the season went along,” said Bret Harte head coach Rich Cathcart. “We are successful because we have a lot of help. The pros at Greenhorn are really great. Anytime we need something, they will come and help and they are all happy to do that. There is a lot of help that we have to make Bret Harte golf successful.”
The Mother Lode League title win was the 17th for Bret Harte since 1986 and the section championship was its fourth in the same time span (click here for a list of past section champions).
The 2017 season was a year of repeats. Repeat MLL titles. Section championship repeat. And also, repeat MLL Most Valuable Player honors for Menzes.
With the challenge of defending a league title as well as a section title, having the top player in the league made that quest much more manageable for Bret Harte.
“It sure doesn’t hurt your team to have the MVP of the league,” said Cathcart. “He’s a great player. He’s working a lot harder this year. He has phenomenal talent and great hands. He hits the ball long and he’s accurate. He’s also improved his putting this year.”
Menzes earned medalist honors at both the MLL tournament, where he shot a 75, and at Monday’s Division V section tournament at Haggin Oaks.
Heading into the MLL tournament, Menzes was calm, ready and didn’t feel any pressure for himself or his teammates, due in large part to their home course advantage.
“Most of the time, when other players come to Greenhorn, they tend to shoot a little higher than they normally would,” Menzes said. “So I felt like there was more pressure on them. For us, it was just another day of golf.”
Bret Harte only lost one home league match at Greenhorn and that was by four strokes to Sonora. Cathcart knew that it would be tough to have lightning strike twice.
“It’s probably the most difficult course in the league,” Cathcart said. “Our greens are pretty fast and there are hazards on every hole, so you need to be pretty accurate. If you don’t play it like we do, it can even be that much more difficult.”
At the MLL tournament, Menzes led Bret Harte with a 75, followed by Nick Kristoff (84), Mason Davis (98), Chris Callen (101), Kallen Dente (112) and Connor Barajas (113).
While Menzes is unquestionably Bret Harte’s top golfer, it was the team’s overall production that made the difference in both the league and divisional tournaments.
“Kallen Dente has really improved,” Cathcart said. “He was in the 60s at the start of the year and got that down and shot a 46 not too long ago. He’s really helped us. Connor Barajas came out late and had never played golf before, but he has amazing talent. He’s just getting better and better. Chris Callen stepped in there and decided that he wants to play and he did a great job in the league tournament. He was one of the guys that helped change our score around.”
With back-to-back MLL titles in hand and a blue section championship banner from 2016, Menzes was unfazed by the competition at the divisional tournament.
“With all of the tournaments that I have played in, that has helped me with the pressure,” Menzes said. “I’ve been in these situations before. I’ve been in almost every situation before, but everyone gets the butterflies.”
Through nine holes at Haggin Oaks, Menzes had a 38. Although he wasn’t angry with his score, Menzes knew he could improve on the back nine, which he did, shooting a 35 over the final nine holes to earn medalist honors.
Kristoff carded the third lowest round of the day with a 75; Davis shot an 84; Dente shot a 103; Barajas shot a 104; and Callen finished the day with a 111. As a team, Bret Harte shot a 439, six strokes better than Ripon, which finished second at the Division V tournament for the second straight year.
“It’s my last year and we won league and sections … it’s perfect,” Menzes said. “I get to go to Masters and who knows what will happen there. But there is nothing more I could have asked for this year.”
Bret Harte qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters tournament, which will be held on Monday, May 15 at The Reserve at Spanos Park in Stockton. This will not be the first time that Menzes plays that course and if he and his teammates play the way they did to clinch the section championship, a trip to the NorCal tournament, while a longshot, is not out of the question.
“I’ve played down there quite a few times and I have a little bit of knowledge of the course,” Menzes said. “I think I’ll be alright. And as a team, if we go out and play the way we did on Monday, we’ll be fine.”
Contact Guy Dossi at (209) 498-2053 and follow him on Twitter at @GuyDossi. Angry