All Kassidy Long-Goheen wanted was a chance to blare ABBA one more time.
And she got it.
The Desert Vista senior golfer and her teammates are heading to Friday's state golf tournament. The Thunder didn't qualify until the final outing of the regular season on Thursday of last week when they won the Tempe City Meet by 40 strokes by having three of the top four individuals. Long-Goheen would have advanced as an individual regardless, but it wouldn't be the same if she couldn't have cranked the tune "Don't Stop Me Now."
"I probably annoy them with it, but it helps us get pumped up," Long-Goheen said. "It's a way to keep the atmosphere loose and have some fun on the way to our matches."
Golf teams faced a much more difficult standard to qualify for state this season compared to last.
A season ago, the standard for Division I girls was the course rating multiplied by four, plus 52; this year it's plus 36. In other words, teams have to shoot 16 shots better. Teams and individuals have 14 matches to qualify, and they have to reach the standard five times and on at least two different courses.
The new standard quickly eliminated many teams from even having a chance of making the field at the two-day event at Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, located at Baseline Road and 35th Avenue. The first round starts at 7 a.m.
The reason behind the change was to reduce the number of teams at the state tournament. In 2010, 29 Division I girls squads advanced. Heading into the final week, 10 teams had qualified with several squads, including Basha, Corona del Sol and Desert Vista, needing one more round under the standard.
"The AIA got what it wanted," Desert Vista coach Pierson Hamilton said. "There will be a lot less teams there. We will see how it plays out at state."
In addition to Long-Goheen, senior Cady Espinoza qualified as an individual. They have been the Thunder's top players all year.
Long-Goheen has played well this season, averaging 36.5 in her qualifying rounds, but feels she has some work to do if she is going to contend for the individual title.
"I've been having trouble putting," said Long-Goheen, who has interest from Idaho, Eastern Washington and Western Washington. "When you three putt from 10 feet that's a problem. I've been pretty good from tee to green, but I have to fix my putting to really finish my career the way I want to."
The other three programs from Ahwatukee Foothills didn't have until the last week to find out if they were going to be playing at state.
The Mountain Pointe girls squad qualified by the end of September, behind the play of Darian Spivey and Sami Springs, to allow them to play free and easy down the stretch.
"The new qualifying process has been tight and stressful, I think, for a lot of teams," Pride coach Carol Wallace said. "We were very pleased to have qualified."
Spivey, who is committed to Northern Arizona, has had a very good year after working with new coach Kent Chase. She fully expects to do better than last year's finish of 31st at state on a course in Tucson.
"I am a much better player and playing with a lot of confidence right now," she said. "I need my short game to be a little better at times, but I think I will be ready for state. I've played the course a few times and I think I can have some good rounds."
The boys teams are considered contenders heading into Tucson to play at the Randolph Golf Course on Friday and Saturday. Entering the final days of the regular season there were 13 teams who qualified.
The Pride has a solid team that has a good blend of experience and youth with a group consisting of Austin Fletcher, Brendan Wiberg, Jake Britton, Max Harden and Ben Harden in the lineup most of the year.
Desert Vista came into the season loaded with the idea of taking a shot at the state title and that hasn't changed entering the final weekend, considering the Thunder has gone sub 150 three different times this season and won the Tempe Cup last week.
If seniors Cody McManus and Sean Buchanan, who is playing through a knee injury, and sophomores Colton Estevez and Matt Liringis are at their best it could be a very good ride home from Tucson.
"We are right there," Thunder coach Paige Peterson said. "We just have to put two more good rounds together and see how it plays out."
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