Junior golf standouts Claggett, Whiton sign with Cascades

Ben Whiton and Kyle Claggett are the first two Class of 2017 signees for the Cascades men's golf team.

Ben Whiton and Kyle Claggett are the first two Class of 2017 signees for the Cascades men’s golf team.

The University of the Fraser Valley golf program is pleased to introduce its first two Class of 2017 recruits, Kyle Claggett and Ben Whiton.

Claggett (Mission, B.C.) and Whiton (Langley, B.C.) signed with the Cascades last week and will join the men’s golf team for the 2017-18 season.

“I’ve watched them both over the last couple of years, and they’ve both got very impressive junior golf credentials,” Cascades head coach Chris Bertram said. “Honestly, these are the kind of players that five years ago, I could only have dreamed about getting to stay home and play for UFV. I know they both had interest from south of the border, and that’s always been a tough thing to compete against. It’s exciting that we’re at a point where players who are coming out of high school locally with really strong resumés are looking to play here.”

Claggett, whose older sister Taylor is a standout forward with the Cascades women’s basketball team, is in his Grade 12 year at Abbotsford’s Mennonite Educational Institute. The 17-year-old is a two-time Fraser Valley 18-and-under champion, winning the tournament in 2015 and 2016, and he won the individual silver medal at the BC Summer Games in July. Claggett has also helped his school team, the MEI Eagles, to great success, including back-to-back Fraser Valley team championships and the 2015 B.C. AA title.

Claggett said that positive feedback from his sister and from former high school golf teammate and current Cascade Nathan Bahnman helped guide him to UFV.

“It’s close to home which is good, and I’ve heard a lot of great things about the school,” said Claggett, whose academic interests include business and law. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys from the golf team from playing with them in tournaments at Ledgeview, and it’s a really good group.”

Whiton finished tied for seventh at the recent BC Summer Games, and he led his Walnut Grove Secondary golf team to some significant accomplishments in 2016, including a team title at the Delta Police High School Tournament and a silver medal at the B.C. AAA high school championship. He’s also had solid results at provincial and national competitions – he was T14 at the 2015 B.C. Juvenile Championship, T36 at the 2016 B.C. Junior Championship, and T31 at the 2016 Canadian Junior Championship (including T10 in the juvenile age group). Whiton also finished T4 at the Zone 4 Amateur Championship this summer, which earned him a spot on the zone squad for the B.C. Amateur.

“I chose the Cascades because obviously the coach is fantastic, and UFV was also the top choice because of the program I’m going into,” said Whiton. “I can’t wait to start playing with the team.”

While both Claggett and Whiton are accomplished junior golfers, Bertram is equally excited about their extensive multisport pedigrees. Claggett, who stands 6’6”, currently plays for the MEI senior boys basketball team, and also excelled at swimming and water polo in his younger years. Whiton, meanwhile, is a starting left side on a very strong Walnut Grove senior boys volleyball squad and had post-secondary scholarship offers to play that sport. He has also played baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey.

“One of the things I’ve been trying to do more of is look for people who have that multisport experience,” Bertram said. “Golf is a game where it seems like the trend is towards getting specialized really early. My experience is, those players don’t necessarily fit in as well to the team concept at the university level, where essentially we’re playing for a team trophy.

“It’s important to have players who, when they’re not having their best day, aren’t going to quit on their round because they understand they’re playing for a team prize and their score might count. Every shot matters, and the more you get players who care about the team, the better off you’re going to be.”

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