Story and photos by Kurt Johnson
Editor’s Note – The TOSH Top 25 is our countdown of the top 25 stories from the 2016-2017 school sports year, beginning with No. 25 and counting down, one story a day, to No. 1. The 2016-2017 high school sports year was filled with big performances, both team and individual. The act of narrowing down our initial list of top stories for our TOSH Top 25 stories of the year to just 25 was a difficult task. We asked people all over the state for input into our final list and beginning July 5, we are counting them down in reverse, from story No. 25 to story No. 1. Hopefully your favorite story of the past school year made our list.
Today, we announce No. 20 as three golf programs – the boys at Lone Peak and Park City, and the Desert Hills girls – are back on top.
#20 – Golf champions continue to dominate
The student-athletes change, but the results remain the same for a few of Utah’s elite high school golf programs. For nine consecutive years, the boys team at Park City has walked away from the state tournament with the big trophy and the girls from Desert Hills have finished on top eight years running. Meanwhile, the 5A boys competition has come to be dominated by Lone Peak, which ran it’s string of state titles for four straight in the fall of 2016.
Desert Hills girls claim 8th straight title
The girls golf team at Desert Hills has been participating in the sport for nine years now. Year 1 was the only time this squad did not claim a state title. When the 2017 Thunder finished 24 strokes ahead of their closest pursuer at the 3A state tournament, they finished off their eighth consecutive championship campaign.
A new group of players led the way this time around, paced by Tori Thomas, who won the individual state title in a playoff, holding off tourney favorite Gracie Richens of Dixie. Thomas shot an opening-round 77 and a second-day 78 to play her way into a tie with Richens before settling matters in the playoff.
The Desert Hills team title came because of a great overall effort that included a fourth-place result from Kjahna Plant, who shot 82-79 for a 161 total. Jenna Welch was in 12th position after a 91-87 for a 178 two-day total.
Nine straight for Park City boys
It doesn’t seem to matter who graduates or who arrives at Park City High, the Miners always turn out big-time golfers in the kind of volume that makes them impossible to beat. It’s difficult enough to fight off a team that always has someone in the individual medalist hunt, but even more so when four and five different golfers are pushing the Top 10 at state.
Such was the case for the 2016 Park City boys as they won consecutive state title No. 9. Zane Schemmer tied for the lead after a carding a two-day 140 (71-69), but it was Juan Diego’s Michael Walter who earned the individual title in a three-way playoff.
Add to Schemmer’s result the fourth-place finish by Miner golfer Eli Kimche, who finished just one stroke off the leaders with a 141 after posting a second-day 67 to go with his opening-round 74. Dean Tsandes added to the Miner haul at 143 (71-72) to finish sixth, while Cole Lee finished eighth, and the duo of Josh Lansky and Jack Wright tied for 11th.
That’s six Park City golfers in the top 12 positions and another state title.
Knights too deep for 5A field
Lone Peak captured its fourth straight 5A state title in boys golf because, like Park City in Class 3A, it had too many great golfers for the other teams to match. For the Knights, six players finished in the top 14 individually, and that volume performance carried the day.
Elijah Turner was consistent over the two-day event, shooting back-to-back 68s for a 136 that sent him into a championship playoff against Weber’s Connor Howe. Howe won the playoff, but it was a great tournament for Turner.
Max Brenchley closed hard on Day 2, carding a 66 after shooting 72 for his opening round. The combined 138 left Brenchley in a tie for third position. One stroke back of Brenchley in a tie for fifth were a pair of Knights, as Josh Rooker (72-67) and Tyler Jones (71-68) both posted 139 totals.
To put an exclamation point on the Lone Peak performance, Zach Jones finished in a 10th-place tie and Jaxon Long tied for 14th.
The combined performances of these elite golf programs make up the No. 20 story on our TOSH Top 25 stories of the 2016-2017 school sports year.
TOSH Top 25 stories of 2016-2017