After winning the region title for the fourth year in a row, the Grand County High School boys golf team ended the season last week with a third-place finish at the state championship.
On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the Red Devils traveled to the region competition in Richfield, where they cruised to victory on a 62-stroke lead to capture the region title for the fourth consecutive year. The Red Devils defeated Richfield, South Sevier, Emery and San Juan during the region match.
Two seniors from Grand gave particularly strong performances. Dale Thomas took home the individual region championship, while fellow teammate Hunter Butterfield also gave a strong showing and placed third overall.
“We won region pretty soundly,” said head coach Steve Hazlett. “Four of our players placed top 10, and Dale was the region champion, so I’d say we did pretty well. We won by something like 62 strokes, cumulative from the whole season.”
The next week, on Oct. 1 and 2, Grand competed in the state championship tournament in Salt Lake City. But the Red Devils struggled to perform as a team and placed third overall.
Grand’s golfers got off to a good start the first day, shooting a team total 315 to rank third behind Manti and Beaver. The score gave the Red Devils a slim, single-point lead over Rowland Hall.
Thomas led Grand with a score of 70 the first day, followed by Butterfield, Kris Kemp and Tyson Saggboy, who shot 77, 82, and 86, respectively.
On day two of the tournament, the Red Devils landed in the rough. Grand outshot Manti but Rowland Hall improved and the Red Devils finished the day with another 315, for a cumulative two-day score of 630.
Thomas still led the team, although with a 75. Butterfield was Grand’s second scorer with a 76, while Anthony Shepard-son and Brayden Ward filled in the remaining two scoring slots at 82 each.
“I think we could have done better,” said Hazlett, “After the first day, we were ahead of Rowland Hall by one point, and we were behind Manti by six. I think we got so focused on Manti the second day that Rowland Hall just sort of snuck by us.”
Hazlett said that while there were some strong individual performances, the lackluster play came from the fact that some of the team members just weren’t playing to their full potential.
“There were 16 teams at state, and we took third. That’s definitely respectable, but I think that we didn’t get the scores as a team that we could have,” Hazlett said. “We just had some players that weren’t playing well enough.”
Hazlett said he believes the team will have some good players and strong potential next year, but the Red Devils are losing some star golfers to graduation.
While the team’s performance may not have been its best, two of Grand’s players placed in the top 10 at state.
Thomas placed third overall with a score of 145, while Butterfield took ninth with a score of 153. Thomas’ score came down to the very last hole, where he was tied for first place. But he ended up placing two strokes behind the state champion, who scored a 143.
Both Thomas and Butterfield will be nominated to the all-state team, which recognizes the players who place in the top ten at their state competitions, Hazlett said.