By Randy Long White Pine High School boys golf coach

Prior to leaving for the State Golf Tournament I fired off an email but in hast forgot to attach the story. Belated as it is, here you go.

The boy’s golf team made it out of Divisional play in Needles last week and head to the State Championships this week. As you read this you may already know those State results but let’s review how we got there.

Ty Pickel defended his divisional low medalist title from last season with a fine round of even par 71. He grabbed that title with a birdie on the par 3 eighteenth hole to win by one stroke. Ty’s victory paced the Bobcats to a tie for first place in the team category at 415. The tie-breaker placed us in 2nd overall as The Meadows captured 1st. Chris Young finished in 9th overall with a nice round of 78 followed by Donny Hiatt’s 13th place finish with 85 and Nick Marich was next at 86. Nick Johnson fired 96 and Xavier Guardado came in at 110.

Sitting in 4th place after the front 9 the boys rebounded to tie for 1st place with that team total of 415. I was a little concerned seeing how our expectations were for a lower score but that’s the game of golf. We look forward to representing the community well in our State bid. Go Bobcats!

That bid for a state title saw the Bobcats arrive at Genoa Lakes with a single goal in mind. Our season long preparation set the stage for a strong day one showing as the boys rolled in one after another with scores reflecting a team on a mission. Paired by divisional results, Ty was lead-off man and turned in a fine round of 73 followed by Chris Young in with 83. Donny Hiatt turned in 46 but brought it home with his lowest 9 hole score of his high school career firing an even par 36 on the back for an 82. Nick Marich was next in firing a one under 71 to tie for the individual lead after day one with Lake Meade’s Quad Brooks. Nick Johnson fired an even 100 and Xavier Guardado came in at 113. Our day one team score of 409 put us in the lead by 32 shots over the field. Individually Nick Marich was tied for 1st, Ty Pickel was alone in 3rd at 73, Donny Hiatt sat in a tie for 8th with his 82 and Chris Young’s 83 saw him in a tie for 12th.

I slept well on that lead but I was in a quandary of sorts as to what to say to the boys the next day. My reason was we had two players locked in a battle for the individual title. Ty was the defending State Champion and between him and Nick they had won 8 individual events this year splitting with four wins each. They not only have pushed each other since they were kids but they bring the best out of each other as well. Unfortunately players from the same team cannot be paired together but they would face off in the final two groups.

We arrived at Edgewood, Tahoe with winds expected to gust between 25 and 35 miles per hour. I smiled inside as I knew no one could touch us in those conditions as we routinely play in foul weather and I knew we could handle it. Of course I didn’t want the team thinking that way so I simply told the boys that we haven’t accomplished anything yet, go win the day. Though scores rose for most, we did win the day by 9 and took the team title by 41 shots.

The individual title was another story and it came down to the last three holes. According to Nick’s side of the story, he felt if he played the final holes well, he’d have a chance. Without leaderboards, players aren’t sure where they stand, but as the leaders finish last they tend to bunch up in spots and get a feel for how everyone is doing. Unbeknownst to them though an Incline player had fired the day’s low round of 75 after posting 82 the first day and was in at 157. Chris Young was hot on his heels firing the days only other round in the 70’s with a terrific 78. That strong finish netted Chris 5th place overall as only six players in the entire field went lower than their first round score.

Donny Hiatt was next to post and though his score went up to 99 on day two, his gut it out performance on the back 9 of day one really helped build our big lead. Nick Johnson and Xavier Guardado matched their day one scores going out early in 100 and 113 respectively. By matching their day one totals while those with them could not, it confirmed my belief that we could handle the conditions.

Ty came in at 85 and got the news that the wind swept 16th , 17th and 18th along the lake had derailed his bid for consecutive state titles as he finished a shot behind Inclines Mitchell Cornell at 158 to finish 3rd. You would have had to play the conditions to realize how tough those holes played and this time the course won. I expect Ty will learn from this and be tough to beat next season.

With the Individual title on the line, Nick Marich played that same stretch in even par and though the conditions had taken his score up to 84 he persevered to come in at 155. I believe Nick set himself up with his mind saying to himself, “if I just play these last three holes well, I have a chance.” That mindset earned Nick Marich the title: State Champion! Way to play, Champ!

This was a special group of young men that truly cared for each other and to a man they lowered their averages by at least five shots this season. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I’ll miss the laughter in the van and the memories of this year’s team. Nick and Ty gave me a gift after it was all said and done. Standing at the back of the van, trophy in hand Nick said, “hey Randy, do you remember telling us in the 5th grade that if we kept working hard at this game we could win a state title?” Ty remembered that moment on the practice tee at the golf course too and Nick responded, “Look what we just did!”

Way cool boys, thanks!

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