Preps

Wednesday, Apr 11 2012 05:13 PM

Frontier golfers Martel, Keeter sign with CSUB

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Paul Martel proudly sits next to his daughter, Frontier High senior, Michelle Martel, Wednesday during her college letter signing day to attend CSUB and play golf there.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Frontier High student Lexi Keeter, right, receives a congratulatory hug from friend, Justann Meek, during her letter signing day with CSUB.

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BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

The hardest part, Tony Bernardin said, was the vow of silence.

Bernardin, who still worked at Frontier High School but had been hired as the women's golf coach at Cal State Bakersfield, knew he wanted two of his first recruits to be Michelle Martel and Lexi Keeter, part of the group that helped the Titans to three straight Central Section championships under Bernardin.

But because of NCAA rules governing recruiting, Bernardin had to wait until an official contact period before talking to either Martel or Keeter about it -- even if that meant he had to walk right by them in the hallway at Frontier.

"It was difficult; they thought I didn't like them," Bernardin said, half in jest. "But we wanted to make sure we did everything right and crossed all of our Ts and dotted all of our Is."

It paid off. Both Keeter and Martel signed letters of intent Wednesday to become Roadrunners and cash in on the unique opportunity to play their college careers under their high school coach.

"Bernardin was the big thing," Martel said. "When he was first allowed to recruit, he asked me if I wanted to play at CSUB. I said yes."

Martel, a first-team All-Area selection after she averaged 80.5 strokes a round as a senior, and Keeter, a two-time second-team selection, are part of Bernardin's early push to keep the best local golfers around for the Roadrunners.

"(Men's coach) Dave Barber and myself and the rest of the athletics department at CSUB are committed to creating an atmosphere that both male and female will want to be a part of," Bernardin said. "We're looking for girls with character and academic skills, and these two meet both of those. And they can play a little golf."

And the two Titans-turned-Roadrunners couldn't be happier.

"Cal State just kind of worked out," Keeter said. "Tony getting hired opened the door a lot," Keeter said. "It was really hard for him to approach me because of the rules, but when he did, I said, 'That's awesome.'"

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