Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
Picking the top anything of the year is never an easy proposition, and as we complete our third list of top Utah high school sports stories of the year for Preps Utah, we found that this list is no exception.
For the 2013-2014 school year, we released our Top 20 stories of the year, but this year, we have expanded our list to 25 stories, some of which combine multiple events that share common themes. Since the goal is not to be exactly right, as anything of this nature is entirely subjective, but to recognize as many of the great accomplishments of the student athletes across the state as we can, we hope you will understand.
Beginning July 13 and continuing for the next three weeks, we will release one or two items on our list per day, beginning with No. 25 and working our way up to story No. 1. Today, we announce No. 19.
#19 – Golf Greatness
It takes a strong team to win a state golf championship, where the top four scores count each of two competition days. Sometimes, however, a strong individual performance can go a long way to lift a team.
The 2014 Class 4A and 5A state golf championships put both methods on display and that combination makes up No. 19 in our PrepsUtah.com Top 25 stories of the year.
After taking a small lead with an opening round 67 in the 4A tournament, Maple Mountain senior Kai Ruiz went even lower on Day 2 and cruised to a six-stroke win in the individual competition. The Brigham Young University-bound golfer did the heavy lifting as his team overcame a 12-stroke deficit on that second day to win the team title by four shots.
Both Bonneville and Timpview carded team scores of 286 Monday as those two shared the lead heading into the final day of competition, and Laker golfer Kaige Schuler was one stroke behind Ruiz after recording a 68. The second day did not go as well for the two front-running teams, and led by a 66 from Ruiz, the Golden Eagles had enough to take the title.
The championship run came despite the fact that Maple Mountain had to count a 79 and an 80 on Day 1 and an 82 on Day 2. That’s because Ruiz was so much better than a field that included a handful of well-known and talented golfers, including a trio (East’s Hayden Banz, Tyler Holmes of Timpanogos and Rhett Rasmussen) that finished six shots back in a tie for second place. The field also included fifth-place finisher Brock Stanger from Orem.
Lone Peak Dominates 5A Tournament
There were some strong individual performances in Lone Peak’s 5A state championship over two days at Glen Eagle Golf Course, but the most impressive thing about the win was the overall domination as the Knights won their fourth state title in the last seven years. A second-day 72 was the lowest score that counted among their top four either day for Lone Peak, which finished with a two-day 553, 22 shots better than second-place Davis.
After shooting an opening-round 76 that did not even register among his team’s recorded scores, Ryan Barber was the big story on Day 2, as he recovered to fire the tournament’s low round, a 64. With that, he improved his two-day total to 140 and finished tied for sixth with teammate Carson Lundell, four strokes behind Marshall Harris of West, who was the individual medalist.
Cameron Webb was Lone Peak’s leading golfer, with a 71-67 (138) that was good enough to put him in a tie for fourth position. Max Brenchley carded a 141 two-day total to finish in 10th position.
Maple Mountain and Lone Peak did it in different ways, but the collective dominance of the Knights and the overwhelming individual performance by Kai Ruiz combine as our No. 19 story of the year.
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