TAFT -- Inexperience, a tough course and even tougher opponents was a combination that Stockdale's boys golf team couldn't overcome during the Central Section Boys Golf Team Championships on Monday at Mifflin-Buena Vista Golf Course.
The defending champion Mustangs, who don't have a senior in their starting lineup, shot 400 as a team and finished third in Division I behind Clovis West (381) and Clovis North (396).
"Clovis West was a huge favorite, and we knew that," Stokdale coach Dan Lemon said. "That said, I'm really proud of the way our boys competed. A lot of them hadn't been on this stage before, and they got a taste of a Division I championship."
Stockdale's best score all season was a 394, so the Mustangs -- who have been without sophomore Brandon In, their top returning player, all year because of a shoulder injury -- would have had to be at their very best to compete.
In fact, the best score carded by any Kern County team this season came from Liberty, which shot 392 at least week's final Southwest Yosemite League meet and was two strokes shy of a wild-card qualification for the section finals.
"We had to be on top of our game," Lemon said. "We couldn't afford any letdowns."
And some of Stockdale's players did perform at their peak. Phillip McNamara, a freshman who plays at No. 5, birdied three straight holes on the back nine and shot a 6-over-par 78, close to his career best. Blake Bourelle, a sophomore at No. 4, had an 81, and junior Ryan Vignolo had an 82 at No. 6.
But No. 1 Jared Kinoshita said he struggled with windy, dry conditions and fast greens en route to a 77.
"It was probably the best 77 I've ever had," said Kinoshita, a junior. "I didn't have all my tools, so I was grinding all day."
Jason Yang and Michael Chang, two more freshmen, shot 82 and 85, respectively, to round out a good round for Stockdale -- but not a great round.
"It was real hard to hold shots to the greens, and the wind made it more challenging," Lemon said. "It was a difficult course today."
As Clovis West ran away with the Division I title behind a 2-under-par 70 from James Trevino, a 74 from Jeff Yamaguchi and a 77 from Trent Nishimura, the real drama was left for the Division II race.
There, Frontier shot 403, one of the Titans' better rounds of the season, behind a 77 from Konner Baker.
"We played all right, but we were actually better in practice on Thursday)," Baker said. "I missed a lot of putts, too many putts."
Still, the Titans' 403, buoyed by 80s from Ethan Hicks and Ryan Chamberlain, looked good for a repeat Division II title until Fresno-Central's final two scores came in.
A 74 from Chandler Vanelswyk and a 77 from Kyle Clark were enough to push the Grizzlies to a 395. That not only won a Division II title, but it also pipped Clovis North for the second best score overall, and with it the final spot at the CIF Southern California regionals on June 2.
"That was a ridiculous Division II scoreboard," Titans coach Nick Kaiser said. "I've never seen a Division II team even close to qualifying for the regional."
Twelve individuals also qualify for the regional at next Tuesday's Central Section Individual Championships in Madera.
Garces, led by Mike Barnett's 82, shot a 460 and finished sixth out of six Division I teams.