By Maria Singh
The Cal Poly Pomona Turf Team ranked second at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s 2016 Turf Bowl in San Diego, California on Feb. 11.
The team earned $2,000 for placing second. CPP had two teams in the competition, with the second team placing fourth in the rigorous competition.
Sixty-two teams from 33 different schools participated in the event. The competition consisted of 11 sections of turf for students to study. These areas of study included turf grass identification, weed identification and control, water management and a case study.
The competition started at 8 a.m. and had 236 participants. For the CPP team, the test lasted approximately three hours.
Oscar Del Real, a fifth-year plant science student, represented CPP as president of second place team 34. Del Real talked about his feelings at the competition and what it meant to him as a returning member.
“I was excited that we actually got second because one of the main reasons is that Cal Poly [Pomona] is not known anymore as a turf school, since we lost our main professor,” said Del Real. “I was like I’m not going to let this program die, so I made sure that we studied hard and did well.”
Del Real explained that CPP competed against schools that had advantages in funding and classes that are offered in areas specifically regarding to turf objectives.
Due to this disadvantage, Del Real utilized his role as president to help his team focus on what it needed to know prior to the competition.
“I was the more experienced one, I guess you could say,” said Del Real. “So I was the one that was setting up meetings and pretty much. ” My professor was teaching everybody what they needed to know because, for the most part, most of our team doesn’t have a turf background. I work in the field, as well, so that helped me out a lot.”
The news that CPP ranked second place in the competition reached past students who participated in the previous Turf Bowls, including Raul Martinez (’15, plant science) the previous president of the club.
Martinez congratulated the CPP team for its fantastic finish.
“I was excited, I was excited,” said Martinez. “When you’re preparing for it and it’s your first time, you really don’t know how to prepare for it until you take it. ” The president this year was all over it, so it was all him.”
After competing in four Turf Bowls, Martinez related to the pressure that this year’s team experienced, but he feels confident that CPP will continue to improve.
Priti Saxena, a professor at the College of Agriculture, contributed to the team’s success with thorough study techniques.
“We divide the sections among the students, and each student has to be an expert on their topics,” said Saxena. “There were two days in a week where the students have to come to class, and they have to present their topic. I think I was lucky that I got really hard working students. They were really bright and very dedicated to their topics.”
In order for the students to gain in-depth knowledge of the different areas of the competition, Saxena gave two tests per week and presentation sessions.
Saxena, who plans to coach for the next Turf Bowl competition, described her feelings upon hearing the scores and what her ultimate goal is for her students.
“I cannot tell you how much I was nervous about them competing,” said Saxena. “I mean, they were competing, and it felt like I was competing. Sometimes you don’t need to sit on their heads. Sometimes you need to have a friendly companion. ” So, my ultimate aim is to make them grow and let them be a better person than what they were before and feel good about themselves.”
To secure the first place title for next year, Saxena plans to start preparing students earlier so they become familiar to the pressure. She also plans on conducting more practice tests for the students.
Courtesy of CPP Turf Team
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