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Depth is key to links success

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A premium will be placed on depth in high school golf this year.

In past years, each state qualifier sent five golfers to the state tournament, with the four lowest scores counting toward the team score. This year each team can send six golfers, with the lowest four still counting.

Both the Utah Section PGA and the Utah High School Activities Association conducted their own surveys regarding the increase, and both found that nearly every coach was in favor.

The UHSAA also altered the way 3A and 2A teams qualify for the state tournament. Instead of 50 percent of the teams qualifying like in past years, each region will qualifying four teams.

CLASS 5A: Considering that Alta's Dustin Pimm won the International Junior Golf Tournament in Las Vegas this summer, he should be a lock to repeat as medalist in Class 5A this year.

Davis' four-year stranglehold on the team title is jeopardy this year as Matt Lyon takes over for the retired Val Cullimore.

After dominating with names like Summerhays and Ogden since the mid '90s, the Darts are down a bit this year. In fact, in the three Region 1 tournaments so far, the Darts have been shutout by Fremont, Clearfield and Northridge — which has each won one.

"I feel there are a lot more teams in the running this year than last year," said Alta coach Rick Dittman.

Region 2 has been equally as competitive this year as Alta, Bingham and Brighton have each prevailed at one of the region tournaments.

Prior to last Wednesday's region tournament at West Ridge Golf Course, Brighton's Mike Branca was leading the individual region standings. That's when Pimm decided to take over.

In a rain storm at West Ridge, the Alta senior fired an astonishing 66 to beat every golfer by six strokes.

Some other contenders for 5A medalist honors include Bingham's Tyson Lund, Viewmont's Stuart Gold, Fremont's Nick Despain, Brighton's Eric Jensen and Cottonwood's Chris Glesh.

The 5A tournament is Oct. 6-7 at Mountain Dell Golf Course.

CLASS 4A: Considering that medalist Robbie Fillmore, and runner-up Sterling Clark are both back — and are both from East — it's doubtful the Leopards won't win their third-straight state title this year.

As a team last year, East fired a 584, which was 15 strokes better than Sky View. That stroke total could be even greater this year.

"We're trying to remain humble and not start counting our chickens," said East coach Scott Bringhurst. "There are a lot of great players out there. It takes a lot of work to win the state championship."

Other 4A medalist contenders include Woods Cross' Kurt Owen, Sky View's Daniel Smith, West freshman Tony Finau and Pleasant Grove junior Dane Jensen, who was the state medalist as a freshman two years ago.

The 4A tournament is Oct. 6-7 at Mountain Dell Golf Course.

CLASS 3A: If Dixie's Reed McArthur can discover two more golfers in the next three weeks, the Flyers have a good shot at repeating as state champs.

Jared Brader, J.J. Allen and Christian Jensen are Dixie's top three golfers, and any one of them could garner state medalist honors on a given day.

Aaron Adams provides Dixie with a solid No. 4, but McArthur has yet to pin down a fifth and sixth golfer.

Judge and Park City should provide the Flyers with the toughest competition. Union's Tyler Labrum, last year's medalist, returns to defend his title.

The 3A tournament is Oct. 8-9 at Eagle Mountain Golf Course at Brigham City.

CLASS 2A: Juan Diego caught most people by surprise last year when it edged Richfield for the team title. The Soaring Eagle won't sneak up on anybody this year.

They're the odds on favorite to repeat as the 2A champs, but should receive stiff challenges from Richfield, Beaver and Rowland Hall.

"With golf, it all kind of depends on the day," said Juan Diego coach Bryan Jeffreys.

Heidi Kim, Mike Uhle and Tyler Ludwig all returning contributors from last year.

The 2A tournament is Oct. 8-9 at the Palisades Golf Course.

E-MAIL: jedward@desnews.com