LAVEEN – Paige Peterson heard the rumblings, didn’t want to believe it, but at the same knew how fickle the game of golf is so he wasn’t going to discard it.
The Mesa Mountain View boys golf team really did put up a tremendous final round and once again Desert Vista was regulated to runner-up status.
It was hard to believe on Tuesday at Aguila Golf Course and interrupted a mini-celebration by the Thunder players as they believed they finally gotten over the hump.
Peterson finally relayed the news on the other side of the clubhouse, away from the rest of the field, that as well as Desert Vista played over the two-day tournament the Thunder were going to finish as the Division I state runner-up for the fourth straight season.
By one shot no less.
Mountain View finished at even par 576 and the Thunder were 1-over 577 with Brophy (579), Perry (585) and Desert Mountain (591) rounding out the top five.
“I am proud with how hard they worked the last two weeks,” Peterson said. “All season we talked about how important it is to finish your round and how every stroke matters. They didn’t forget that in anyway.
“(Monday) they were great down the stretch. (Tuesday) some guys had a few bad holes down the stretch. It’s gonna happen. It just seems it happens to us at the worse possible times.”
The team has never won a team title and entered the second day with a six-shot lead over Brophy and seven over Desert Mountain. The players knew they did enough to beat those two squads as their tee times matched up with their closest opponents.
The Toros, however, were in a different tee time group because they were 13 shots back to start the day, but Mountain View shaved 20 strokes off its team score led by Hayden Webb’s 6-under 66.
“Mountain View came together and performed when it counted in the end,” junior Matt Liringis said. “The last three years (four overall) that has been our biggest faux pas - the last three or four holes. Our whole team over the last few holes didn’t perform.
“They were 10 under on the last day and that’s what champions do.”
As difficult as it was Tuesday afternoon to focus on what the Thunder, who shot a 4-over 292 (7 strokes worse than Day 1), were able to accomplish instead what they missed out on, there were some positives.
Liringis was the medalist, the program’s first ever champion, by a commanding six strokes and everyone of the Desert Vista players is coming back next season to make another push toward a state title.
Liringis followed up his 7-under 65 with a just as impressive 4-under 68 to win the tournament by six strokes over Independence’s Anthony Quezada, who finished at 5-under 139.
“It’s feels great and I have been really working hard at my game,” Liringis said. “My putting has transformed the last few moments (after he switched to a belly putter). I wanted to put myself in position to win it and that’s what I did.”
Mountain Pointe senior Austin Fletcher entered the second day tied for second at 3-under 69 and managed a par-72 for a tie for fifth place to help Mountain Pointe to a 13th place finish in the 19-team field.
“I’m really proud of the fact that I improved every year at the state tournament,” said Fletcher, who qualified all four years with the Pride. “Hopefully, I can keep improving every year at the next level (at an unknown college).”
Desert Vista will struggle with the ‘what ifs for a few days, knowing each player missed a putt here or bogeyed an easy hole there, but eventually they’ll all understand how impressive of a run the Thunder have been on during their careers.
“It’s really hard right now because so much work went into it and to lose by that small of a margin is tough,” Ross said. “As a team we finished really bad. It seems like the last couple of years we haven’t closed it out when we had the chance to win it.”
Peterson said having to tell his players they came up short once again was difficult.
“That’s the hardest part ... doing it with some of these guys for years and knowing how bad they wanted it,” Peterson said. “They put their hearts and souls into it.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.
Top 10 teams
1. Mountain View 298-278-576; 2. Desert Vista 285-292—577; 3. Brophy 292-287—579; 4. Perry 298-287—586; 5. Desert Mountain 293-298—591; 6. Boulder Creek 297-300—597, Hamilton 302-295—597; 8. Ironwood Ridge 304-296-600; 9. Pinnacle 306-297—603; 10. Chaparral 309-295—604.
Individual scoring (top four count for team standings)
Desert Vista 577
Matt Liringis 65-68--133
Randy Ross 70-71—141
Colton Estevez 75-74—149
Brant Jolly 75-70—154
Alec Costello 75-83—158
Mountain Pointe 616
Austin Fletcher 69-72—141
Ben Harden 80-71—151
Johnny Campion 84-76—160
Alex Stoken 83-83—165
Josh Mendoza 84-81—165