The golf gods are cruel.

Just ask anyone who has played a round, but not even they can be this mean.

There is no way Desert Vista and its senior group walks away without a state championship after all they’ve been through, right?

The Thunder has finished as state runners-up four straight seasons. This group has played a large part in the team’s success but the second-place finishes has become a punch line of sorts.

This might be the year they get it done with a very strong top five, including the defending Division I individual champion Matt Liringis.

“As long as the team continues to work hard, improves their preparation for competition, and sharpens their short game, this team should have a strong season,” Desert Vista coach Paige Peterson said.

Joining Liringis on the tee box are New Mexico recruit Randy Ross, a two-time top 10 finisher at state, Colton Estevez and Alec Costello.

The new addition is Thunderbird transfer Jack Snyder, who finished sixth at the Division II state tournament as a sophomore, to give Desert Vista a top five that will be hard to beat most times out.

“The top five players all have extensive tournament experience,” Peterson said. “They have not won many tournaments as a team, but they have a great work ethic.”

Mountain Pointe, which will attempt to defend its Ahwatukee Cup title starting on Tuesday, has a chance to be in the second tier of state challengers behind Brophy, Hamilton and Desert Vista.

The Pride’s top three are very good and if they can get a couple of others to contribute consistently Mountain Pointe could make a push in 2013.

“I am really looking forward to being competitive in every match and tournament,” Pride coach Tony Ramseyer said. “We should be able to compete for the state championship if everyone plays well both days.”

The senior trio consists of Ben Harden, who won three tournaments this summer, Johnny Campion and Josh Mendoza. The top candidates for two other spots are juniors Alex Stoken and Elijah Cable, both of whom gained varsity experience last season.

“We are in need of more challenging practices at different facilities around the Valley,” Ramseyer said. “They are experienced and hungry to improve.”

The expectations are not as high with the girls programs, but success is coming for the two second-year coaches.

Mountain coach Pete Manigold should have three quality players in seniors Maddi Woodward, who finished 58th at state, Cassidy Chase and junior Lauren Blumears, who finished a team-best 42nd at state last year.

“Last year set the foundation for this season,” Manigold said. “Some of the players got a taste of state competition and they know what it takes to play at that level.”

Desert Vista had one senior in Geraldine Torrellas last year so 2013 brings back a wealth of experienced players.

Senior Shelia Barbee, sophomore Megan Fusak, and freshman Arianna Medina will be heavily counted on this year and if the Thunder can match last year’s trend when nearly everyone posted their best scores near the end of the season under Matt Russo it could be a special year.

“This will be another year to frame the foundation for girls golf in our area,” Russo said. “We are building a team that embodies the passion that the Ahwatukee community has shown in golf and sports in general.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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