ST. GEORGE – The Snow Canyon boys golf team is replacing its top two finishers in 2014 from a team that took fifth in the state a season ago — including Adam Miller who tied for sixth. However, that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare.
Seniors Kaden Goodrich and Jake Sargent headline an experienced group with state experience, along with Brodey Payzant and David Lindsey, which has aspirations to improve on that fifth place finish this year. Senior Tyler Larsen is also expected to contribute.
Add to that group talented underclassmen vying for varsity time, and the Warriors have a solid core of players.
“I think this year we’ll have a good chance because we’ll have some young talent,” Sargent said. “We lost a lot of good players last year, but we’ve got some new ones coming in … I think our chances are pretty good.”
Possibly the biggest addition for Snow Canyon is freshman Triston Gardner.
In the season-opening tournament last week at Sunbrook Golf Club, Gardner took second and topped 2013 state runner-up, Taylor Cummings of Pine View, in his first varsity action.
“Triston is a pleasant surprise,” SC head coach Ken Burr said. “I’d heard about him all summer, and I just told everybody, ‘Well, when he comes to the first day of tryouts, I’ll see.’ He’s the real deal, so he’s pretty solid.”
Goodrich had even more to say about Gardner.
“He’s an amazing player. He’s got great talent, great skill and probably outplays me every day of the week,” he said.
Despite Gardner’s performance, the Warriors weren’t pleased with their overall score of 332 and fourth place finish in the region opener. Burr said he expects his team to improve and contend with the top teams in Region 9 this season.
His players think they’ll be right there as well.
“We need to stay inside ourselves. We can’t think too big. (We need to) play within ourselves, play the golf we know how to play,” Goodrich said. “If we can score well in our region, we will do well at state. We have four teams in the region that should be in the top four or five at state.”
One thing the Warriors have going for them, is their unity. Goodrich said even on the team’s off days that they spend a lot of time together golfing and hanging out. That has created a tighter bond during competition.
“I think we have a great team. I think the chemistry is pretty good,” Burr said. “We have a lot of conscientious golfers, and they try their best to do what they can do. We’ll just try to represent Snow Canyon High School and Southern Utah.”
The Warriors will continue their season Thursday when Region 9 heads to Sunriver at 1 p.m., and they will look to improve upon last week’s finish.
“We’re a little bit disappointed in the first tournament that we had, but I think the potential is still there. We’re just going to keep working and try to get better,” Sargent said. “Hopefully we’ll get to where we want to be.”
Follow Tim Olsen on Twitter, @TheRealTO.