The Desert Vista boys golf team is in one of those positions that are both impressive and infuriating.
The Thunder enter this season, which got under way on Monday with the Ahwatukee Cup, having finished state runners-up three years in row.
“It’s a motivator to finally push through and get that title for us because we’ve been so close for three years in a row,” junior Matt Liringis said. “We have to get that title.”
Desert Vista should have the horses to be contenders again with three tournament tested juniors back from last season’s team and a talented senior in Jason Kramer.
In addition to Liringis, Colton Estevez and Randy Ross, who finished sixth at the state tournament, are back to make another run.
Desert Vista coach Paige Peterson knows the Thunder have the talent to be there in the end again and if they should finish second yet again then in reality it would still be a very good season.
“It’s great all three of these guys have state experience and have played a ton of tournaments outside of high school,” Peterson said. “It’s a nice core to have back.”
While Peterson has been there to accept that runner-up trophy each year their players haven’t so the onus isn’t necessarily on them to get over the hump.
“Not everybody on the team has been through three years of being runner-up,” Peterson said. “Having said that, they are aware. One of the first things we do is sit down and see what their goals are and there is no doubt they want to win a state championship.
“Personally, I’d love to see them achieve that.”
Ross, who went through a swing change over the summer, said they know there will be plenty of expectations and they like being considered one of the favorites along with defending state champion Brophy, which returns its entire top five.
“We want to win state so bad at this point and I am expecting to be the biggest challenger to Brophy,” Ross said. “We are looking pretty good if we all pull together.”
While the top four are established, Peterson said there is a good mix of players contending for the remaining spots.
“In terms of who is going to be the fifth or sixth player on the team only time will tell,” he said.
The Mountain Pointe program hasn’t had as much end of the season success, but the Pride has had the individuals near the top of the rotation who could medal in any tournament.
It shouldn’t be any different this year with senior Austin Fletcher leading the way after he finished in the top at the state tournament last year. He was 1-under for the state tournament and has a chance to be the first player to qualify for state during coach Tony Ramseyer’s 13 years running the program.
Junior Ben Harden slides into the No. 2 slot with the graduation of Jake Britton, Brendan Wiberg and Max Harden.
Ramseyer is confident that the players stepping in the other positions can keep the Pride’s string of state tournament appearances — six straight — intact.
Juniors Ryland Townsend, Josh Mendoza, and Johnny Campion have all improved since the start of last year.
With Fletcher and Ben Harden at the top the Pride will win most dual meets, but how good they will be determined by the rest of the team.
“We have the potential to compete for a state championship if we consistently improve,” Ramseyer said. “If we can work together towards accomplishing our team and individual goals it should be a good season.”
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