Mark Eldridge (red hat and shirt, back row) has announced his retirement at Palomar's women's golf coach. Eldridge, who guided the Comets to the 2009 Southern California title and the 2011 state community college championship after founding the program in 2007, is pictured above with his 2011 state championship team. Mark Halda (below) is the Comets' new head coach.
Eldridge retiring; Halda taking coaching reins
SAN MARCOS (12-17-2014) --Mark Eldridge, the only women's golf coach the college has ever known, has announced he will retire from Palomar at the end of the spring semester. He's handing the head coach's reins off to assistant coach Mark Halda.
Eldridge, who began the women's golf program in 2007, guided the Comets to the 2009 Southern California championship and the 2011 CCCAA state title. He also coached Palomar to four conference championships, two second-place Southern California finishes and two third-place state finishes.
He coached the 2012 state individual champion, Taylor Crandall, 2008 Southern California champion Cora Busby and 2009 Southern California champion Beth Sellers.
Halda, the assistant for Palomar's 2009 Southern California champion men's team, took over the head coach's position in 2010 and, in his first season, developed Orange Empire Conference Player of the Year Sejun Yoon, who as a freshman tied for the low score in the state championship tournament, losing a card-off with Santiago Canyon sophomore Conner Covington for the state individual title. Yoon left school after his freshman season to turn pro.
The Comets' Jordan Asper won the Southern California individual title in 2013.
"I have every confidence in Mark Halda's coaching ability and know both programs will be in good hands," Palomar athletic director Scott Cathcart said. "The opportunity to mesh both programs into a year-round instructional operation has the potential to make us the community college golf destination of the region."
Eldridge was Palomar's long-time softball head coach and is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He guided the Comets to a 1,083-304-5 record, 29 conference championships and three state titles and developed one of the nation's best players in Oklahoma State All-American and national team pitcher Kim Ward.
Eldridge also was assistant coach defensive coordinator for two Palomar national championship football teams, also serving a one-year stint as head coach and was javelin coach for the 1977 state community college champion men's track team. He was the first javelin coach of Tom Petranoff, a converted baseball player who went on to break the world record in the event twice.
"No other coach in the long and proud history of the Palomar athletic program has achieved the consistent level of exellence and success -- both on the field and in preparing studen t athletes for transfer -- than Mark Eldridge. His presence will be missed," Cathcart said.
Eldridge was a three-sport athlete at Palomar (football, baseball, track & field) and was a starting safety for Washington State. He also was a javelin thrower at Long Beach State.
Halda also has a football background. He was a starting quarterback at San Diego State and was a longtime Palomar football assistant.
2014 Palomar women's golf team -- Photo by Melinda Finn
Season over as Comets 5th in SoCal Regionals
TEMECULA (11-11-2014) --Palomar's women's golf season came to an end on Tuesday as the Comets finished fifth out of six teams in the Southern California Community College Championships on a 6080-yard, par 72 course at Temecula Creek Inn.
Tournament winner College of the Desert (665) and runner-up College of the Canyons (684) advanced to next week's four-team CCCAA State Championship Tournament at Morro Bay. Top individuals also advanced, but none from Palomar.
Irvine Valley (686) finished third, Fullerton (700) fourth, the Comets fifth with a 739 score and Santa Barbara City College (748) was sixth.
For the Comets, Deanna Bird (above left) had a two-day, 36-hole score of 180 but improved eight strokes from Monday's first 18 holes. She had an 84 score, compared with her 96 on Monday.
Brittany Bilek (88-95 -- 183), Jessica Campbell (95-93 -- 188) and Sydney Houser (98-90 -- 188) rounded out Palomar's team total. Samantha Runnels (105-96 -- 201) had the throw-out score.
Lexandra So from Citrus medaled with a 75-73 --148. The cutoff for individuals to advance to the state finals was 173.
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