SALT LAKE CITY — It’s going to be difficult for any state golf tournament to match last year’s exciting finish in the 5A tourney at Riverbend Golf Course.
Brighton and Lone Peak finished in a tie after 36 holes, and eight players competed in a one-hole playoff won by the Bengals, thanks to Jacob Byers’ birdie putt.
When this year’s 5A golf tournament is played Monday and Tuesday at Alpine Country Club, Brighton and Lone Peak will be the teams to beat again.
With nearly the same group as last year, the Bengals won the Region 3 championship, while the Knights won the Region 4 title with a couple of top players back from last year. The two schools have the top two season averages in 5A with Lone Peak at 72.4 and Brighton at 73.2.
The Bengals are led by Charlie Duensing and Byers, while the Knights’ top two players are Berkley Stulce and Cameron Webb. Other top teams in 5A are Viewmont, which won the Region 1 title, Bingham, which was second in Region 3, Syracuse, the Region 1 runner-up, and West, the Region 2 champion.
West’s Austin Banz is the defending 5A medalist. He’ll be challenged by Granger’s Henry Leng, last year’s runner-up, Viewmont’s Kelton Hirsch, Bingham’s Anthony Morton, Fremont’s Dylan Chugg and the aforementioned players from Brighton and Lone Peak for the individual title.
Each of the four high school tournaments this week are two-day, 36-hole affairs, with a cut after the first day. Sixty percent of the teams will qualify to play the second round and the top 10 individuals or any player who shoots 79 or better or is within 10 strokes of the lowest first-round total can play in the second round.
Here is a look at the other tournaments:
4A — Ogden Country Club, Monday and Tuesday
A year ago, Maple Mountain won its first state championship, edging Bonneville, Orem and Timpview for the team title. This year, those four schools come into the tournament with the best season averages and should battle it out again with 2011 champion Woods Cross and Olympus as the dark horses.
Maple Mountain is led by junior Kai Ruiz, who finished second overall last year, and Mark Mortensen. Bonneville counts on Carson Park and Kaige Schuler, while Brock Stanger is Orem’s top player. Caden Dickson and Josh Lillywhite lead a balanced Timpview team.
The top individual might be Corner Canyon sophomore Rhett Rasmussen, and he’ll be challenged by two-time all-stater Matt Loosle of Highland, Kyle Beard of Woods Cross and Aaron Yeates of Timpanogos.
3A — Mountain Dell Lake Course, Wednesday and Thursday
Only four schools have won more state titles than Park City, which has claimed nine championships, including the last five in a row. The Miners are the favorites to win the 3A title again this year.
Three players are back from last year’s title team, led by Mitchell Schow, whose 69.6 scoring average was the best in 3A by far. Also returning from last year are Harry Hankskat and Jalen Roberts.
Region 11 champion Bear River has a balanced team, led by Triston Hartfiel and Bridger Layton, while Region 9 champion Desert Hills is led by Taylor Cummings and Jordan Olsen.
Among the golfers who could contend for the individual title are Juan Diego’s Ryan Lowe, Juab’s Dalton Jackson, Dixie’s Nicklaus Britt and Uintah’s Janzen Davis.
2A — Palisade Golf Course (Sterling) Wednesday and Thursday
It’s almost certain a new champion will be crowned in 2A, where Beaver has won the last three state titles.
The Beavers have an entirely different lineup this year after last year’s senior-laden team graduated, and the Beavers come into the tournament with the 12th-best scoring average among the 16 teams.
Last year’s runner-up, Rowland Hall, won the Region 14 championship and will be one of the teams to beat along with Grand, which finished third last year, and Manti and Emery.
The top individual golfers include Joe Barton and Kody Quarberg of Manti, Garrett Furubayashi of Rowland Hall, Jace Woodward of Grand, Weston Wheeler of South Summit, Sage Herron of Waterford, Quin Wagstaff of Beaver, Hudson Chappel of ALA, and Jaece Stokes and Nick Norton of Layton Christian.