The world is upside-down.
Amidst a collection of Riverbank golfers is one with the legendary last name ‘Mickelson’ and she’s not even the best on the team.
But she’s certainly trying.
Alyssa Mickelson, a Riverbank sophomore, is the youngest member of the Bruin golf team. She’s put in tireless work this summer to live up to prestige that follows PGA lefty (Phil Mickelson), but will have to settle for prowess as a rising talent on the local links.
Mickelson shot a 59 to aid her program in a victory over Hughson during Riverbank’s push to a 1-1 preseason campaign. The Lady Bruins, led by four-year varsity golfer Emily Blevins, were able to topple the Huskies by a 206-235 tally in non-league play on Sept. 5.
It was Riverbank’s last tune-up before a furious Valley Foothill League North campaign that began with a host contest with Ripon on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time.
Blevins shot a 40 against Hughson and will compete from the top spot on the Bruin lineup. Junior Janelle Luu (44 vs. Hughson), Mickelson, senior Vanessa Ramos (63 vs. Hughson) and senior Maria Ramirez will represent her entire support network.
With five golfers, Riverbank just meets the requirement to field a varsity program, and will need four solid scores each match, just to stay competitive.
It’s a serious challenge for first-year golf coach Ismael Mercado, who stepped in to fill the void left by John Bartlett (now athletic director).
“The girls are learning and improving,” Mercado said. “It will be tough to compete with the best teams in our league, but that doesn’t mean we are not going to give it our best shot.”
Riverbank graduated section qualifier, Tori Sandoval, and took a hit when other golfers elected not to rejoin the program. Mercado said it’s been a grind to develop his new players, but admits the process is a bit less stress than his old post, as the Bruin varsity baseball coach.
He said Escalon, Bret Harte and Ripon will represent his toughest opposition.
The Bruins host Calaveras on Thursday at the Escalon Golf Course.