Transitioning to high school boys golf can be a tough challenge for a freshman, even for one as gifted as Spanish Fork’s Jackson Rhees.
Don head coach Jordan Rogers said Rhees saw his share of ups and downs during the 2019 season.
“Throughout region you saw his potential but he made freshman mistakes,” Rogers said. “In the last two weeks, however, he really turned a corner. He cut down on the mistakes. He saved his best for last.”
That came at the two-day 5A state tournament at Wasatch Mountain golf course in Midway, which concluded on Tuesday. Rhees fired an even-par 72 in the first round, then bettered that with a 1-under-par 71 in the final round.
His total of 143 was enough to earn him third place in a very deep field of 5A boys golfers.
“There are a lot of quality golfers at the top of 5A,” Rogers said. “The sky is the limit for Jackson. He’s a really talented player who grew as the season went along.”
Led by Rhees and with senior Remy Newell concluding his Spanish Fork career with a 71 as well, the Dons surged to fourth place in the team competition with a team score of 601.
Skyline’s score of 584 was just enough to hold off Farmington (585) and Park City (589) to win the 5A state championship.
“We knew there were three giants,” Rogers said. “You never know in golf and you always keep the idea of winning it all out there, but I said coming in that fourth would be a fantastic state tournament for us. We’re happy with that.”
He said he was particularly proud of Newell and what he did for the Dons during his time at Spanish Fork.
“He finished with back-to-back birdies today, which was a great way to end,” Rogers said. “He had a great career for us.”
Right behind Spanish Fork was Lehi, who shot 611 for fifth place but the Pioneers felt they could’ve been better.
“I thought we had the manpower to score a little better,” Lehi head coach Jason Ingersoll said. “On the second day with better weather, I thought we would have better scores. But the kids competed and played hard. Overall I’m happy with how we did. We lose some good kids but have good kids in our program, so we’ll be back.”
Pioneer sophomore Helaman Ofahengaue set the pace for Lehi, tying for fourth overall with a score of 145.
“From last year to this year, he dropped 10 strokes,” Ingersoll said. “I don’t know if he can do that next year but I know he wasn’t very happy with how he did. He got himself in some trouble in a few holes, but he is so mentally tough he can rebound and keep going.”
Both Lehi and Spanish Fork have a solid young core group of talented golfers, so they fully expect to be in the mix to win it all next fall.
“Our goal is to bring a state championship to our school,” Ingersoll said. “We won our region this year, which I think was first time ever as far as I know. But seeing Skyline get the trophy today got them. They are going to be hungry.”
Rogers said: “We lose two seniors but we are pretty excited. Today was a big deal because we showed we can compete with the top teams. We return a ton of players, so the future is bright.”