Laurie Dyer sensed some somber as the first few Desert Hills players strolled through the Mountain View Golf Course clubhouse.
The 3A golf powerhouse, however, still had plenty of time to produce better scores.
Chalk it up to “Clutch Katie” Perkins to come through, and the Thunder to wrap up a fifth consecutive team title Thursday.
Perkins won her second consecutive medalist honors, and a group that may not have been quite as deep or experienced as past years still held off everyone.
That included runner-up Dixie, which was just six strokes behind (322 to 316) and had the second-place finisher with Gracie Richens.
“The girls were amazing,” Dyer said. “And then you talk about Katie, to shoot under par like she did — that’s why we’ve taken to call her ‘Clutch Katie.'”
The junior shot a minus-3, three strokes better than Richens and Desert Hills teammate Megan Welch.
Desert Hills had Kyla Smith in a tie for sixth place, and then it wasn’t until 55th place that another Thunder golfer was spotted on the leaderboard. Chalk it up to a few players not exactly playing as well as they wanted. But it was also a new group this year that had to deal with the weight of previous years’ expectations. Golfers Nos. 4-6 are young, Dyer added, and will benefit greatly from the experience — and the success paced by the ultra-consistent Perkins.
Perkins praised the team for staying focused and playing as best as it could. She was certainly throughout the scoreboard area in receiving congratulations for a career that started with a runner-up finish as a freshman.
Dyer said a lot of younger players admire Perkins and want to get to her level somehow, someday.
“They’re just really focused out their on the course. Not usually distracted. We play against Dixie and Pine View all of the time, and that’s stiff competition. They really were amazing,” Dyer said
The Thunder’s Welch added a big putt on the final hole to finish at par to wrap up her high school career.
“They have such a good rapport with each other; help each other out,” Dyer said. “This one was one of the most exciting…this year was more of a struggle…I hoped to come up here and play our best. We didn’t know if that would be good enough. But our younger girls played their guts out and worked so hard to try and fill the gap.”
Allie Brandt, Abby Morris and Bailee Carmack all still finished inside the top 70.
Good enough, certainly, to come through with the “Clutch.”
Pine View sophomore Taylor Bandley took fifth overall, and coach Gary Higgins said she’ll continue to get better and be a threat as her mental game improves.
Snow Canyon’s Bergen Nelson took home a share of 10th place.
Mikayla Frei finished eighth and Madison Hopkins finished just inside the top 20 for Dixie, which made a major jump from finishing 12th as a team last year.
Frei is just a sophomore, while Richens was a newcomer to high school golf and plans to get more experience playing a variety of tournaments in the summer. She lamented a rough patch not long after the turn that hurt her medalist contention.
“But it was pretty cool,” Richens said, noting she hit into some tough rough that isn’t easy to find on southern Utah courses. “For being in state the first time, the nerves just got to me a little.”
She’ll probably see Perkins at some tournaments this summer. Richens said players from the two schools tend to be “pretty good friends, so it’s a little hard to be rivals.”
But on the drive home, there was already talk about next spring.
“We’re all talking about winning state next year,” Richens said. “I mean, everybody wants to win state.”