Mingus Union High School’s golf team was the first to begin official competition for the fall season in the Verde Valley when it hosted a four-way region duel.
As it is with any first game or match, which took place on Tuesday, Aug. 22, at Verde Santa Fe Golf Course, there were nerves, and they came into play.
But head coach Craig Mai was satisfied with his players’ reactions en route to a second place finish.
“I’m pleased with how the kids bounced back. When they had one or two holes in the past go bad, then the whole round goes bad,” Mai said. “To me it is a very promising thing, it will afford us well for the future.”
Host Mingus finished at a 27-over 171, four strokes over top finisher Prescott High School [+23/167]. Bradshaw Mountain High School took third [+57/201] and Page High School was fourth [+72/216].
Senior Tyre Kim shot a 4-over 40 and junior Justin Tanner a 5-over 41 to finish second and third, respectively. Prescott’s Joey Christopherson was not far ahead at a 2-over 38.
Kim and Christopherson were neck and neck the whole way through. That was until the ninth hole, when Kim admitted to making a couple of crucial mental errors that proved costly.
He bogeyed the final two holes while Christopherson birdied eight to take the win.
“I was pretty nervous coming into the match. It was my last first match,” Kim said. “I wanted to do really good for my team, but I feel like I could’ve done even better if I focused up on the last couple of holes.”
Before the season Mai talked about eliminating three things from his team’s game in order to be successful.
Two remained at the match, three-putts and penalty strokes. But he pointed out an intangible that will prove pivotal.
“We’re not pros, we don’t play on Sundays, so there will be mistakes,” Mai said. “Mental toughness will determine how we perform as a team.”
Regaining a berth to the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II state tournament is a difficult task. Only the winner of each region, then the remaining top eight teams from around the division, qualify.
The Marauders’ best bet is to win their region, Region VII. Prescott emerged one of the biggest contenders early on, and the team was able to use the match as a measuring stick moving forward.
Rounding out the Marauders five were sophomore Noah Daher [+8/44], and seniors Ethan Brogden and Brayden Munday [+10/46].
The team played on Tuesday, Aug. 29, against Anthem Preparatory Academy and Bradshaw Mountain at Prescott Country Club, but results were unavailable at press time.