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Prep Girls Golf: Del Norte High’s golf program first to four league titles
The Del Norte High girls golf team has won the Valley League crown all four years it has had a varsity program.
When a new high school opens there is usually a three or four year period that goes by before it becomes competitive in athletics.
Kids need to bond, coaches need to establish themselves, the size of the school usually needs to grow, especially the junior and senior classes, and that takes time.
Del Norte High opened in 2009 and some of its athletic programs are still going through this process. Some are also just starting to hit their peak. But there is one program that has established itself quicker than any other — girls golf.
The Nighthawks soared right out of the gate, capturing the Valley League title in their first year with a varsity squad. Del Norte has only gotten better each season and that includes this year, when the Nighthawks captured their fourth straight league championship.
Over four years in the Valley League, Del Norte has a record of 38-2. Both of the losses were to Mission Vista, who earned a piece of the title this season by beating the Nighthawks Monday 203-214 at San Luis Rey Downs Golf Course.
But that loss certainly didn’t put a damper on things for Nighthawks senior Victoria White. She became the first athlete at the school to be part of four league championship teams.
"Going down in history as the first four-time league champ is pretty cool for her," said Del Norte coach Mike Reifeiss, who has been with the program from the start. "She was pretty excited and emotional about it."
Sophomores Annika Chickering and Hanna Matilainen have led the way for most of the season for the Nighthawks. But Del Norte needed every one of its top six to perform to pull out the league title this season.
In the first meeting with Mission Vista, the Nighthawks finished in a 201-201 tie. The tiebreaker was the sixth golfer’s score and Haley Donovan’s 44 at
the Rancho Bernardo Inn was just enough. Without that victory, Mission Vista would have been outright league champs.
Other solid play for the Nighthawks this year has come from senior and team captain Victoria White, sophomore Nastasia Kossacay and senior Stephanie Stack.
The group will now turn its focus on the upcoming CIF San Diego Section Championships. First is the North County League Tournament, which starts Monday, but the Nighthawks put little emphasis on it since it has no impact on the section tournament.
"We always would like to win it, but we do not put too much effort into it," Reifeiss said. "To be honest, CIF is where it counts and our goal is to be top five as a team and to get a couple girls to regionals."
Last year, Del Norte finished in ninth place at the section championships. Paris Griffith, who graduated after last season, has been the only Nighthawks golfer to advance to the SoCal Regional. She did it the past two years.
The section tournament is slated for Nov. 5 at Admiral Baker Golf Course. The final round is on Nov. 7.
"I just want the girls to go out there and stay relaxed and have some fun and not get too serious out there," Reifeiss said. "That is pretty much all girls golf is to me. I know some other coaches take it more serious, but you have to put some perspective into it. For a lot of seniors, this is their last high school event."