ST. GEORGE — After Manti finished Day 1 with a one-stroke lead at the 2A boys golf state championship Wednesday at Southgate Golf Course, Grand County's golf coach Aaron Woodard was hoping the stage was set for a reverse deja-vu result on Thursday.
"Last year we were ahead by one stroke after the first day," said Woodard. "But Manti came back the next day to beat us by one stroke."
Hollywood writers could not have done a better job at setting up the stage for a grand Grand County comeback.
But Manti refused to contribute to the storybook ending, following its own well-worn script to a "T" on its way to a sound and convincing 17-stroke victory and another command performance as high school state champions.
"I thought we were about even as we made the turn," said Manti coach Casey Fowles. "But our kids were especially focused and in a good frame of mind on the back nine."
Davis Hardy led the way for Manti with rounds of 75 and 76 (151), good enough for second-low medalist. Second for Manti and third overall was Kody Quarnberg (80, 72-152.) Joe Barton contributed rounds of 79 and 76 (155).
"I was 3-over-par on the front nine," said Hardy. "Even though the coach tells us to play as individuals and let our teammates play their own game, knowing that our team was doing well gave me confidence on the back nine."
Against all caution, the entire Manti team, including coach, took a deep wade in the Southgate lake to the apparent satisfaction of parents and fans.
To no one's surprise, Jaece Stokes, of Layton Christian, garnered medalist honors with consistent, well-crafted rounds of 68 and 69 (137) besting his nearest competitor by 14 shots. Though his team failed to make the cut, the entire team followed Stokes in support of his runaway quest for another state championship.
Rounding out the individual top 10 were 4. Garrett Furubayashi (76, 77-153 Rowland Hall); 5. Jace Woodard (79, 75-154 Grand County); 6. Joe Barton (79, 76-155 Manti); 7. Davis Heslington (82, 74-156 Beaver); 8. Brandon Hare (83, 74-157 Delta); 9. Masen Ward (79, 79-158 Grand County); and 10. Gage Ekker (78, 83-161 South Sevier).
The state championship format includes the total of the best four scores of the six-man team. Manti's Braxton Quarnberg's first-round 84 and James Nelson's second day 82 figured in Manti's victory (624).
2A boys tournament
Southgate Golf Course
1. Manti 624; 2. Grand 641; 3. Rowland Hall 665; 4. South Sevier 673; 5. Summit Academy 690; 6 (tie). Delta/Beaver 707; 8. South Summit 712; 9. Emery 721.
1. Jaece Stokes, Layton Christian 137; 2. Davis Hardy, Manti 151; 3. Kody Quarnberg, Manti 152; 4. Garrett Furubayashi, Rowland Hall 153; 5. Jace Woodard, Grand 154; 6. Joe Barton, Manti 155; 7. Davis Heslington, Beaver 156; 8. Brandon Hare, Delta 157; 9. Masen Ward, Grand 158; 10. Gage Ekker, South Sevier 161; 11 (tie). Rowdee Taylor, South Sevier/Jake Newman, Summit Academy 162; 13. Brendon Woodard, Grand 163; 14 (tie). Sean McDaniel, Rowland Hall/James Nelson, Manti 167; 16 (tie). Alec Williams, Grand/Jordan Abdalla, Rowland Hall 169; 18. Hayden Akiyama, Summit Academy 170; 19 (tie). Kyler Kimball, Delta/Parker Baldwin, South Summit 172.