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Wednesday, Dec 28 2011 07:57 PM

Frontier's Shain is All-Area Girls Golf Player of the Year

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    By Michael Lopez / Special to The Californian

    Bakersfield Californian Golf Player of the Year Meghan Shain

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  2. 2 of 2

    By Michael Lopez / Special to The Californian

    Bakersfield Californian Golf Player of the Year Meghan Shain

    click to expand click to collapse
BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

Tony Bernardin, the Frontier girls golf coach for the past five seasons, knew he had a good player coming in 2007, when he saw incoming Titans freshman Meghan Shain playing in the Crozier Classic at Foss-Kern River Golf Course.

"She's playing against 17- and 18-year-olds, and she's holding her own," Bernardin said. "I knew she was a special talent."

What Bernardin didn't know is that Shain was just getting started.

"I played three sports growing up (including soccer and basketball)," Shain said. "I've always been a really determined, serious athlete. But going into high school, my dad asked me, 'What's the one thing you want to accomplish in high school?'

"I said, 'I want to play golf in college.' And so I quit the other sports to focus."

Four years later, Shain is The Californian's Girls Golf Player of the Year. Her accolades are many: Women's record scores of 68 at Haggerty-North Kern and 67 at The Links at RiverLakes Ranch, her home course; the Women's City Amateur Championship; a 74.7 stroke average during the regular season to lead the area; and, most notably, survival in a CIF Southern Cal regional playoff that allowed her to become the first Central Section player to reach the state championships.

"From the beginning of the season, I knew what I wanted," said Shain, who has signed to play at Santa Clara next season. "The goal was to get Player of the Year and make it to state."

Shain's rapid start was betrayed a bit by a slow finish to the regular season, but she regained form in time to shoot 77 and tie for second at the Central Section championships at Rio Bravo Country Club, and her 76 got her into a six-way playoff for four berths to state at the regional in Murrieta.

"It was probably one of the most nervous moments of my life," Shain said. "My body was completely numb on the first tee. But once I got up to the ball, it all went away.

"I kept thinking, 'All of these girls are really good, but if you think about it, we all shot the same score.'"

Shain hit a four-foot putt for par, and three of the other five golfers couldn't match that. She was in state, where she shot 79 and finished tied for 27th at Poppy Hills Golf Club in Pebble Beach.

"It was almost like kind of a dream," Shain said. "I worked so hard to get there, and once you're there, it's just relaxing. All of us who got there kind of share a common bond. All of our hard work had paid off."

That was especially true in the case of Shain, who regularly worked out on the course six hours a day and longer during the summer.

"You play, you hit on the range, you chip," Shain said. "In golf, it's easy to get away with spending six hours out there."

Bernardin, who has accepted a job with the Cal State Bakersfield women's golf program, said Shain is one of the hardest workers he's seen.

"I expected her to play well because of all the work she had done over the summer," Bernardin said. "She's an on-the-course practice player. She puts herself in different situations, hits off of different tees. She can make a single course turn out to be five different courses."

Shain said she hopes to crack the starting lineup at Santa Clara as a freshman, but her long-term goals are loftier: She still has aspirations of playing beyond college on a professional tour.

"I'll always have a back-up plan, but I know I can get there if I put my whole life into it," Shain said. "I'm down to earth about it, but I'll never give up on it."

For now, let it be enough that Shain was a great high school golfer.

"She has been an ambassador for golf for this county," Bernardin said. "Her maturity on the golf course is amazing. She reached some goals that she set as a freshman, and it's exciting for her and exciting for us to watch it happen."

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