A good indication of the state of junior golf in Utah is reflected in the scores being shot these days by the state's high school golfers.
Gone are the days when a round in the mid 70s is good enough to be a high school golf champion. There are so many quality golfers playing prep golf this year that normally it takes a score under 70 just to have a shot at winning a region meet. Teams that want to challenge for a region or state title better plan on having at least four or five players shooting in the 70s on a regular basis.
Most likely, when the state champions will be crowned the first week of October when the 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A state golf tournaments are held at Soldier Hollow State Park Golf Course, teams will probably need a handful of players to shoot near even par.
Here's a quick look at what Utah's prep golfers have to offer this season.
5A: Clearly the strongest region in prep golf in Utah is Region 1. Defending state champion Fremont, even with some of the state's top golfers back in Zach Blair, Patrick Fishburn and Cody Wass, has its hands full with league rivals Syracuse and Layton. The Titans have three outstanding golfers in Devon Purser, Colton Ogden and Devin Dickson. The Lancers are led by Brandon Kida, a sophomore who is good enough to win the state medalist. Even Weber, with Nick Throngrit and Taylor Garner, should make some noise.
Region 2's top team should again be Brighton, with Casey Halliday and Stephen Linn leading the way. Skyline could contend with Jaden Jackson and Tom Jacobsen, while Alta's David Wright and Austin Detting and Jordan's Taylor Morgan are also among the league's best.
Region 3 could be the weakest league in 5A, with the top players being Devin Pearson of West Jordan, Kobin Courtney of Bingham and Nick Booth of Copper Hills.
Region 4 is balanced at the top with Lone Peak, Spanish Fork and American Fork. The Dons' Garrett Moss will be aiming for his third straight league title, but he has strong competition this season from Garrett Fotu and Joe Parkinson of Lone Peak.
4A: There's probably not a team in 4A golf this season that's as strong as 2007 state champion Dixie. The Flyers lost five of the six players who helped win that title a year ago. However, returner Andrew Huff and newcomer McCoy Willy should have the Flyers challenging once again. Their cross-town rivals, the Pine View Panthers, are also a strong bunch, with Skyler Schone, Steven Wade, Mason Van Orden and Drew Van Orden back.
Many feel that Bonneville will give the southern schools the biggest battle. The Lakers have two very good players in Brock Glassman and Greg Diaz. Box Elder, also from Region 5, is led by Joe Wight. Alex Graser from Woods Cross and Trace Hansen of Mountain Crest should also be among the top players in 4A.
The most-balanced leagues are Region 6 and Region 7. Cottonwood, Highland, East and Olympus should battle to the last match for their region title. The Colts are led by Andy Sluder and Adam Ostler, while the Rams' top players are Walker Jensen and Steven Croft. The Titans have good balance with Casey Elton and Alex Howlett leading the way.
Springville, Orem and Tooele are the best in Region 7. Tiger sophomore Dalton Stanger is currently the region's top player, but he has close competition from the Buffaloes' Jacob Holt, the Red Devils' Taylor Bankhead, Ryan Rigby and Daniel Kerr, and Timpview's Derek Hislop.
3A: Uintah, 2007 state champion, and Park City, last year's runner-up, have every contributing player returning. Therefore, it should again be a battle between the Utes and Miners at state in October. Uintah is led by Stratton Schulz, medalist last year, and Alex Baldridge, Chase Hanberg and Matthew Gudac. Park City is very deep with Sam Bell, Michael Coopman, Greg Method, Tom Kearns and Grady Zieglowsky.
The only team that might challenge Uintah and Park City is Carbon. The Dinos have two solid players in Jordan Pinedo and Corbin Black. North Sanpete's Trevyn Tucker is another quality golfer from Region 8.2A: Barring a disaster of some sorts, Rowland Hall should repeat as the state champion in 2A. The Winged Lion return seven from last year's state title team topped by medalist Carson Huiskamp, Eric Hutchinson, Quentin Morse, Joey Polychronis and Tom Veghte. South Summit is the only team that should give Rowland Hall a challenge. The Wildcats have two new players in Davis High transfers Tyler Haws and Dustin Haws.