A week ago, Lone Peak sophomore golfer Preston Smithson was locked in an intense battle with two other Knights with the right to represent the school at the 6A state tournament on the line.
He won the qualifier — and just kept on winning.
“The qualifier was really hard because I was facing two really good players,” Smithson said. “The first day, last Monday, I was down by one going into the second round on Wednesday. I shot 69 on Wednesday to qualify. It was so intense. I think it really got me prepared for this week and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have to qualify for this tournament.”
From that unlikely beginning, Smithson proceeded to play incredible golf at the two-day 6A state tournament at Meadowbrook golf course in Taylorsville. He fired a 1-under-par 71 on Day 1 on Monday, then clipped off a couple of strokes to get to 3-under-par (69) in the final round on Tuesday.
His overall score was just enough to edge Lone Peak senior Taft Lewis and Bingham’s Garrett Bland (both of whom finished at 141) to earn medalist honors.
“It is so awesome,” Smithson said. “I never could’ve imagined this. Coming in I was hoping to get a medal and be in the top seven. I got a medal last year as a freshman and I wanted to improve on that. I just played my best golf. I putted really well and hit my irons awesome. Last year Zach Jones won it and the year before Cole Ponich won it, both golfers who are going to BYU. And this year it’s me, which is crazy.”
Lewis said he would’ve loved to have been right there as well but also that he was thrilled for Smithson.
“Some people might think it was about the individual title but I just wanted the team to win and be happy,” Lewis said. “I’m so pumped for Preston. It has opened so many doors for him. It’s a bummer being that close and playing that well, but I played well and had some bad breaks. It’s golf and it happens. I give all the credit to Preston. He played like such a stud.”
Knight head coach Chad Christofferson said it was the perfect script for Smithson.
“He was the last one to qualify in,” Christofferson said. “He was the last guy to get here and then he was the last guy to come off the green with the championship. You couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
With Smithson and Lewis leading the second-day charge, Lone Peak pulled away from the competition to win its second-straight 6A team title and sixth in the last seven years.
“I got on my freshman year with the team but then my sophomore year we were up on the second day but we lost,” Lewis said. “That was pretty devastating. I never wanted to feel that way again. I wanted to get back-to-back again. It feels awesome.”
The Knights got a huge boost from freshman Cooper Jones, who rallied from shooting a 78 in his first round to come in at 5-under-par (67) on Tuesday, the best round of the tournament.
Lone Peak’s other counting score in the final round was a 2-under-par 70 from junior Parker Reese, giving the Knights a team total of 12-under-par for the round.
That final total for the Knights was 564, easily enough to hold off Davis (591), Bingham (593) and Skyridge (598). American Fork (625) came in eighth.
“All year they have talked about coming back and winning that trophy again,” Christofferson said. “The boys were able to get it done.”
Smithson added: “These guys are my family. They push me every day to get better. I give all the credit to them.”
In the individual competition, Reese and Skyridge junior Carter Frisby (144) ended up tied for fourth with Davis sophomore Jack Sargent. Jones and Lone Peak junior Kale Abbott (145) tied for seventh with two other golfers. The lowest finish for a Knight golfer was junior Evan Lawrence and he was 12th overall (147).
It was a phenomenal culmination to the 2019 season as Lone Peak put it all together at the end and got to celebrate as a team.
“These are my best friends and I love them,” Lewis said. “They are awesome. They are great players. We all played solid. I’m really happy for the guys.”
Christofferson added: “The guys below them are really good and push them. For this group to win the way that it did is incredible. It just shows how deep we are and how deep our golf roots are in that area.”