Balers have bright future on the links

Ethan Fowles, Brian Plemmons and Austin Wilson lead the Balers on the links this season. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Reggie Synegal has been the San Benito High boys golf coach since 2008, so he knows the program goes through certain cycles. Synegal knew this year would be a rebuilding one to get numbers up and instill in the players a passion to continually improve. By those measures, the Haybalers are well on their way toward accomplishing their goals.

“It’s a growing year where we’re trying to get everyone committed as always,” Synegal said. “We’ve got 24 kids in the program (compared to 18 or 19 last year), and we see a lot of potential in the future. We knew sooner or later we’d have a lot of young players who are new to the game, and this is one of those years where you have to start developing.”

The roster includes Brian Plemmons, Austin Wilson, Ethan Fowles, Christian Puccinelli, Ryan Perry, Chris Jurevich, Garret Minkel, Ryan Amaya and Josh Zapien. Plemmons is the team’s No. 1 golfer and has come a long way in just his third season of competitive golf. He’s shot a low round of 36 and aims to be competitive in the upcoming league championships.

“Brian’s short game is really dynamite,” Synegal said. “He can get up and down and his putting has been really fantastic.”

Synegal has high hopes for several of his players, including the sophomore Fowles, whose positive attitude and tireless work ethic has rubbed off on his teammates and competitors.

“Ethan is putting in the work it takes to be successful at this game for a long time,” Synegal said. “He is one of those guys who represent the future of our program.”

On a typical Saturday, Synegal could be going about his business when he receives a text from Fowles that the sophomore is out on the range or course.

“It’s always a pleasure to know some of these guys are putting in the extra effort to play on the weekends,” Synegal said. They’re out there working on their game.”

Wilson, a junior, also plays with a positive attitude and is mentor for some of the freshmen and sophomores in the program. Amaya, Minkel, Zapien, Perry, Jurevich and Puccinelli have solidified the back end of the lineup and are now looking to shoot lower scores. Synegal expressed tremendous gratitude and thankfulness toward San Juan Oaks Golf Club and General Manager Manny Freitas.

“We’re fortunate to have San Juan Oaks as our home course,” Synegal said. “Manny Freitas and those guys are so accommodating and makes sure everyone is taken care of. They make sure we have everything we need to do well. It’s a huge benefit to be able to go out every afternoon to San Juan Oaks and have a place to work on our game.”

In addition, Synegal said Freitas and the club help the team get a discount on uniform and bags so “we can go out there, look good and feel good as a public school and do what we do.” Plemmons is an up-and-comer who hopes to make some serious noise by next season. He was the team’s No. 4 golfer a year ago and has gained confidence after overcoming a rough patch in the season.

“I’ve been making a lot of adjustments throughout the season and putting in a lot of hard work with all of my teammates,” he said. “Now I’m confident my game is where I want it to be.”

Plemmons grew up playing baseball but decided to focus on golf full time starting in his freshman year. The transition was a rather smooth one, as it didn’t take long for Plemmons to nail down a basic swing and continually improve. As the team’s top returning player, Plemmons hopes to set a good example by working hard so his teammates will develop a love and passion for the game as well.

“I want to help the team finish off this year well,” he said. “And through hard by next year we’ll be one of the top teams (in the league) and hopefully making it to CCS.”

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