The medalist at the CIF-Southern Section Central Coast golf tournament this week didn’t start playing golf until he was 12.
But soon Mitch Martin, a senior at Arroyo Grande High, will be competing in college golf at Cal Poly.
Martin carded a 3-under 69 at Cypress Ridge Golf Course on Monday to lead his team to victory in the 15-team tournament.
Martin, who will receive a partial scholarship with the Mustangs, was one of five Arroyo Grande athletes on Wednesday to sign National Letters of Intent to play a sport at the college level.
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The others were Alexis Elias (Cal State Northridge, water polo), Sean Hollister (UC Santa Cruz, tennis), Laura Greene (Oregon State, rowing), and Brennan Rivera (Willamette, football).
“I’ve known Cal Poly’s golf coach (Scott Cartwright) for the past three or four years,” Martin said. “I’ve seen him around the local courses, and we’d talk. About a year ago, he told me that he was interested in having me come and play at Cal Poly.”
Martin said that he played golf with friends in junior high, shooting above 100, but liked the sport, and began taking lessons to get better.
Now, he averages drives of about 290 yards and has improved his consistency on the course, crediting his high school coach, Jeff Byars, for helping him improve his focus.
“I used to get really frustrated,” Martin said. “He has really helped me with the mental side of golf and taught me a lot about how to deal with things.”
While Martin tries to make his way in the Big West Conference, Elias will also be joining another team in the conference — Northridge’s water polo squad that’s coming off a 23-12 season, the third-best in school history.
Elias, a 5-foot-11 utility player, said her height is an advantage in water polo, and she is working hard to improve her swimming and leg strength to prepare for the college game. She also said that in water polo, players have to get used to the physical aspects of the sport.
“At the end of a water polo tournament where you play six games, you just want people to get off you because people are grabbing you and all that,” Elias said. “I’d say it’s pretty physical.”
Elias played three full years of varsity water polo and was brought up to the Eagles’ varsity late in the year her freshman season.
Hollister played four years of varsity tennis under his mother and coach, Lori Hollister, in preparation for his college experience at UC Santa Cruz, a school he picked for its emphasis on individualism as well as its tennis.
He may double major in English and a science subject, Hollister said.
Hollister credits his mother for keeping up his enthusiasm for the sport, noting that “you’re around tennis 24-7” in his household.
“We talked about it at the dinner table,” Hollister said. “I think her enthusiasm got me that much more into it and involved in the team than if she wasn’t the coach.”
For Rivera, a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, and track and field, playing on the gridiron in college was a top priority.
The 6-3 receiver said he was planning on attending community college in hopes to prepare for college football, if he didn’t land a spot on a university team. He caught 47 passes for 584 yards this season and seven touchdowns.
“I pretty much had a make-or-break attitude,” Rivera said. “My coach (Tom Goossen) really helped me out with going to Willamette (Ore.). I love it up there. They have great kids.”
Greene’s path to Oregon State rowing started when she attended a soccer camp at the university.
After 14 years of soccer, she thought she might try to play at the college level, but the Beavers recruited her as a rower once they learned she competed on the school’s club outrigger team.
“I’m a coxswain, and so it’s important to be small and have a really strong core,” Greene said. “In that position, you essentially steer the boat. I’ve been weightlifting and trying to do a lot of ab work to get ready.”