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Life Without Floyd - Lady Golfers Rebuild For 2012 Season
Four-year standout Riverbank High golfer Courtney Floyd traded in her maroon and silver for the red and blue hue of the Radford University Highlanders over the offseason, leaving the rest of the girls in the Lady Bruin golf program with some gargantuan shoes to fill.

It may take a few feet to fill each shoe, but Riverbank coach John Bartlett said his program depth may just do the trick.

The Lady Bruins return four key members of the 2011 unit, and the addition of three talented athletes could produce enough low scores for the squad to present serious competition in the collection of small school programs in the Valley Foothill League North.

"I was not very optimistic at first, because Courtney kept us in a lot of matches last year," Bartlett said on Sunday. "But after scores came in from Thursday's scrimmage (against Tracy), I think we will actually be okay.

"We did much better than I expected."

Floyd was typically in the low- to mid-30s at Riverbank's home course, the Escalon Golf Course. Emily Blevins and Tori Sandoval, Riverbank's top two returning linksters, shot 37 and 38 respectively on Thursday. The team also carded a 45 and 51 from the rest of their lineup, which is lower than Riverbank's later scores typically averaged a year ago.

If Blevins and Sandoval can continue to shoot in the 30s and the rest of the team can compete to be in the 40s or low 50s, the Bruins will prove a quality opponent for VFL teams in 2012.

Returning champs, Escalon, have won two of the last three Sac-Joaquin Section Division V titles and will be tough to overcome, but the rest of the VFL field (Ripon, Linden, Calaveras, Ripon Christian and Bret Harte) should be within the Lady Bruins' reach.

The Riverbank girls entered last year's VFL Championships tied for third place, ending just shy of a team advancement to the Division V tourney the following week. The strong finish represented Riverbank's best season in school history, all made possible by stunning victories over Linden and Ripon in consecutive matches to close the regular season.

Sandoval carded a clutch 42 to seal a 181-185 win over host Ripon while Blevins shot an impressive 43 to seal a 162-163 thriller against Linden.

Key scores in those matches were also snared by Gabby Macedo and Alissa Button, who return to bolster the 2012 lineup. They will be joined by the first-year talent of basketball stars (and sisters) Janelle and Olivia Luu and softball ace Yolanda Sandoval. The trio's athleticism has Bartlett excited for Riverbank's potential.

"All three of them are really good athletes, so when they told me they wanted to play golf, I was pretty happy," Bartlett said. "It's nice to get girls with athletic ability, and if I can get them to be in the 40s and low 50s by mid-season we will be good."

The Bruins opened the VFL season with their biggest test in visiting Escalon on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. The team is at Ripon Christian on Thursday for a good shot at a conference victory.