Desert Vista boys golf coach Paige Peterson had preseason tryouts to figure out who was going to best compliment the Thunder’s big three in making another run at the Division I state title.
Now they are having another tryout of sorts.
The final month of the season is ahead and it starts with a brutal week to give Peterson a better idea of who can compliment Matt Liringis, Colton Estevez and Randy Ross, all juniors who have been part of Desert Vista’s three straight state runner-up finishes.
The Thunder had a dual meet Tuesday that included a tough Desert Ridge squad, plays in the Tempe City championship Wednesday and Thursday at Ken McDonald Golf Course, and then play in the Dobson Invitational at Dobson Ranch on Friday and Saturday.
“For us to contend it takes four good scores,” Peterson said. “When you look at (defending champions and favorite) Brophy they are so solid. If we can get five consistent (players) to round out those four (spots) it will be critical in taking the pressure off the other guys.”
Unless one of them has a completely off day, Peterson knows he can count on the top three as they are all under 38 for nine holes and 76.5 for 18.
Liringis averages 36.5 for nine and 75.0 for 18, while Ross is at 37.6 and 73.3, and Estevez comes in at 37.8 and 76.3.
“They’ve been playing really well,” Peterson said. “If they keep that up we will be in a good position.”
It will be up to the remaining four contenders to give the Thunder a chance of getting over the runner-up hump.
Senior Jason Kramer has been with the program the longest and has shown signs of being the one, while senior Kyle Price is on the team for the first time after coming to the game late, and sophomore Brant Jolly has shown the ability to go low.
Kramer has been waiting for his spot and knows he has to put it together the rest of the way to finish his career as a major contributor.
“This is what I have been working for,” said Kramer, who is averaging 41.0 and 82.3 this season. “It’s about practicing and motivating myself whether we are in a tournament or playing a practice round.”
Jolly hasn’t been around the program as long but he is playing the best out of the second tier. He is averaging 38.2 and 78.5 per round.
“He has really worked hard in the last year,” Peterson said. “He has a good swing and a good short game.”
The wildcard might be Price, who didn’t start playing until age 15, as he starts to get a better feel for the game.
He is averaging 41 per nine holes but really hasn’t seen much tournament action up to this point. Now that he has developed into a dependable scorer it gives Peterson more options along with junior Alec Costello.
“I practiced for a year trying to get better (before trying out) and it’s starting to pay off,” Price said. “I wish I started playing when I was younger. I’d probably be a little better now. I have a good feel for it, but if I started when I was younger I’d probably be better in certain situations.”
Right now that situation, for all of the Thunders players, is to get over the top. Finishing second three straight years is a great accomplishment but at the same time leaves any competitor wanting a little more.
Peterson feels the talent is there but the next couple of weeks, including a trip to Flagstaff next weekend, will determine not only who will fill out that state tournament roster, but how well they are going to do.
“We are not there yet, but I have the confidence this teams will get there,” he said. “If we put in the work and play well the next couple of weeks leading up to state then we can get there.”
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