Most sports fans are accustomed to close contests and photo finishes, but the race for the Region 5 golf crown is currently so tight that it could very well merit its own category.
The top three teams, Bountiful, Box Elder and Sky View, respectively, are all separated by a mere two points at present.
"I'm really impressed by those three teams," said Woods Cross coach Todd Ballif. "I think the state championship team will come from this region. Whoever wins here definitely has an advantage."
Coming off an impressive performance at state last year, Bonneville High was the preseason favorite to capture the region title. The competition, however, has now become so tense that no one involved in the sport dares pick a favorite for next week, let alone for the end of the season.
The Lakers are presently clinging to a one point lead over arch rival Box Elder, and are hoping to increase their advantage within the next few weeks.
The two teams have quite a history; they have been alternating as region champions for the last few years, a fact that only serves to intensify their competition. "I am pretty pleased with our performance so far," said Bonneville Coach Mike Edwards. "But I would also like to see our players mature and get better over the course of the season."
Every stroke matters to a team in their situation, and all it would take is one ill-timed sneeze to send Edwards' squad tumbling from their spot on the top of the hill all the way down to third place.
Bonneville is one of the youngest teams in the region, and it remains to be seen whether or not their inexperienced players will be able to continue playing at such a high level for the remainder of the season.
"I'd say that our biggest weakness right now is immaturity," said Edwards.
"We don't have any seniors in our top three. That's a good thing in terms of talent, but bad in terms of leadership." Due to this shortage of upperclassmen, the Lakers will need some of their younger players to set the tone for the rest of the golfers on the team.
The most experienced player on the squad is junior Davis Gardener, who hopes to inspire his teammates as well as improve on his number three regional ranking.
Coach Edwards will also count on junior Eric Black, who can already add a first place finish at a region tournament to his resume. Sophomore Tommy Winger should also be a major contributor for the Lakers, as he is presently ranked 10th in the region despite his relative youth.
BOX ELDER: The Bees' hopes for the Region 5 crown rest on the shoulders of a group of six very diverse young men. Coach Cam Peterson may need to count on the quantity, and not just the quality of his players of Box Elder is to overtake longtime foe Bonneville High.
"Our biggest advantage right now is that our team is six deep," Peterson said. "We have really good depth, and hopefully that will make up for some of the inconsistencies we've been having in our putting and course management."
The key members of Box Elder's sinister six are seniors Kirk Nielson, TylerWorthy, ThomasPano, TylerLow and Ben Broadhead. Rounding out the top six is freshman standout Joseph Wight, who has been the most consistent player on the team thus far.
SKY VIEW: Terrill Baldwin, coach of Sky View High's golf team, knows that Region 5 is full of talented golfers. The local competition, however, hasn't changed the expectations that he has for his own team.
"We want to win Region this year," said Baldwin. "That is our number one goal. We'll need to be a little more consistent and get good performances from our 3rd and 4th guys, but that is what we're looking for this season."
Sky View features one of the best one-two punches in the state in juniors Dan Heath and Chance Godderidge. Heath was an all-state golfer last year, and looks to once again be one of the top players in Region 5. Behind those two, however, Baldwin's team appears to be thin. Sky View will need some strong showings from some of their other players if they are to leapfrog Box Elder and Bonneville.
MOUNTAIN CREST: The large gap separating the top three teams in Region 5 from the rest of the pack has left the four other schools scrambling for the fourth place spot. Mountain Crest High has taken advantage of the strong play of its top two players and has managed to solidify its status as "the best of the rest."
"I'd really like to see our team qualify for the state tournament this year," said Coach Brett Hansen. "Our top four guys have all been playing well so far, and that might be enough to get us there."
Fred Summer, one of only two seniors on the squad, will need to set a good example for a team with a disproportionate number of underclassmen. Junior Tanner Johnson is the other half of Mountain Crest's dynamic duo, and will have to be at the top of his game if his team is to remain in the coveted fourth place spot.
BOUNTIFUL: As the coach of a team that has been decimated by graduation, Jan Whitaker is faced with the difficult task of motivating a young team while managing the high expectations that typically surround athletic teams at Bountiful High.
"We are really young this year," said Whitaker. "We're rebuilding, but our players are still very positive about the season. I'm happy with how they have been improving."
Whitaker can count on Tanner Taft, a senior with three years of experience, to encourage the younger players on the squad, while junior Trevor Wortley provides both depth and hope for the future of the program.
WOODS CROSS: Woods Cross is just beginning its inaugural season as a member of the revamped Region 5, but coach Todd Ballif has already noted that the competition in his new surroundings is just as tough as, and maybe even tougher than it was before realignment. More talented opponents could mean that Ballif's squad is in for a long year, as they are going through what Ballif describes as a "down year."
With only one senior on the roster, Woods Cross could be the youngest team in a region dominated by youngsters. The good news for Ballif and the rest of the Woods Cross faithful is that the school's green squad has some talent prospects that promise to lead the team back into region title contention within the next few years. The most noteworthy is sophomore Troy Owen, who is following up a phenomenal freshman year in which he was named a first team all-stater.
ROY: Coach Bart Hadley is in a tough situation. His golf team has lost many of his best players, some graduated, others moved away and still others opted to play other sports. None of his bad luck has managed to change is demeanor or attitude toward the current season.
"I'm really happy with they way things are going," said Hadley. "Our players are improving with each match, they're learning lots, and they are having a lot of fun."
Roy's team, which is mostly made up of ninth and 10th graders, will be led by sophomore Jordan Peterson, the lone holdover from last year's squad. He will have to work hard to set a good example for the newcomers if his team is to make up ground on the other schools in the tough Region 5.