There was a time, not long ago, when Dalton Steenson had the whirlybird club in his golf bag.
He only pulled it out when he was completely frustrated and then he’d let it fly.
And like all of us who have thrown a golf club out of anger brought on by the game, the Horizon Honors sophomore came to grips with it.
“I used to get mad, like real mad,” Steenson said. “My dad told me to respect the game and that I couldn’t act that way. I grew out of it.”
It seems like ages ago now that Steenson is making his second appearance at the Division III state tournament this weekend at Antelope Hills Golf Course in Prescott.
“Dalton has really developed his game this year and become a player we can really count on,” Eagles first-year golf coach and athletic director Nate Agostini said. “It’s a good thing because he is the player we will look to be our top player the next two years.”
Before that time comes Chris Senna still holds that title as the senior looks to win the first individual state title in program history.
Senna tied for third (75-72-147) in the state tournament as a sophomore and finished ninth (73-73-146) last season as the Eagles competed as a team when they finished second.
This go around Senna is competing as an individual with Steenson as the Eagles, playing a mostly inexperienced team, failed to qualify as a team.
“It’s different (playing as an individual), but it doesn’t change the way I play,” said Senna, who set the course record at Foothills Golf Course with an 8-under 28 earlier this season. “I’m going there to win a championship.”
Senna is one of the favorites heading into the tournament after averaging 35.7 per nine holes for the season, along with his knowledge of the course after placing among the top 10 the last two seasons.
“We play two courses (South and North courses) and the second day is harder so it is important to get off to a good start,” said Senna, who is headed to Nebraska-Kearny on a golf scholarship. “I know I can play well there because I’ve done it in the past. I think I’ll play well.”
Agostini said Senna has been building toward this opportunity.
“He has pretty much proven he is pretty good with the record (at Foothills Golf Course) and what he has done at state, placing higher than anyone in school history,” Agostini said. “He just has to go out and play at the level he is capable of and he will have a chance.”
Steenson, who averaged 41.1 per nine holes, has some course knowledge and is ready to take what he has learned over the years to the next level.
“I’ve seen what Chris has done at state and getting a scholarship and I know I can do it, too,” said Steenson, who shot a 78-81-159 for 33rd place last year. “I just have to put two good rounds together and make the right decisions on the back nine to give me a chance.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.