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High school golf: Kihei Akina leads Lone Peak to 8th state title in 9 years

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Lone Peak’s Kihei Akina tees off on the 18th hole as he competes in the 6A boys state tournament at Davis Park Golf Course in Kaysville.

Lone Peak’s Kihei Akina tees off on the 18th hole as he competes in the 6A boys state tournament at Davis Park Golf Course in Kaysville on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The final day of the 6A boys golf tournament concluded with members of the Lone Peak Knights golf team posing for pictures while smiling and holding up four fingers.

Each finger represented one of the Knights’ four consecutive state championships.

With a final score of 560 (eight under par) at Davis Park Golf Course Tuesday afternoon, the Knights cruised to their second “four-peat” in school history and its eighth state title in nine years. Freshman Kihei Akina led the way for Lone Peak and the rest of the field, taking home the individual championship with a six under par score of 136. 

Leading by 12 strokes heading into the second day of the tournament, the Knights used the significant lead from the first day as a cushion to stave off an expected rally from Corner Canyon — which shot four strokes better than the Knights did on the second day, but still finished the tournament as the runner-up, eight strokes behind Lone Peak with an even par score of 568.

“We had a super first day and then we did enough on the second day,” Lone Peak coach Derek Farr said. “We knew Corner (Canyon) was going to make a run. They have a great program and great coaches, so it was just a matter of getting enough birdies and pars when we needed them.”

The Knights and the Chargers separated themselves from the field as the tournament progressed, with Fremont (582), Layton (588) and Herriman (590) rounding out the top five finishers. 

The final scorecards proved — to the state and to themselves — that the Knights aren’t finished being the team to beat in 6A. Akina said that coming into the season he and his teammates actually felt that they were going to be chasing Corner Canyon despite the fact that the Knights were the reigning three-time state champions.

“It feels great,” Akina said after winning his first state championship with the Knights. “Coming into the season we all thought that Corner Canyon was better than us and deeper, but now we’ve proved that we’re the better team.”

Farr said that his squad’s unselfish, team-first mentality was what allowed them to convincingly defeat Corner Canyon and the rest of the 6A playing field, adding that his senior class players set the example of how to have that mentality.

“Preston, Cole, Ryan and Jack,” Farr said while trying not to choke over tears. “They are just awesome young men and you couldn’t ask for better seniors. This senior class was special, and Jack Arnold epitomizes the class and toughness of this group.” 

Senior Preston Smithson — who won individual medalist as a sophomore — was tied for the individual lead heading into the second day of the tournament, and though he couldn’t finish with the individual victory, the team victory gave him his fourth and final state championship as a Knight.

“Man, I did not hit the ball very well today and it was a grind, but I was grinding for my team today and that’s what kept me going,” Smithson said before mentioning that he almost decided not to play golf this year but was very glad he ultimately played.

“This year I almost didn’t play because I had a lot of things going on, but man I’m so happy I stayed. This team was definitely the most fun team to be with, the team chemistry and everything about it was just great.”

The seniors will now pass the baton to their younger teammates in juniors Quin Abbott and Cooper Jones, as well as freshmen Akina and Urben Satiu. With Akina winning the individual tournament and Jones finishing as the runner-up, it appears as though Lone Peak’s future is in good hands.

“We’ve got some really good young kids so, yeah, that makes (the transition) pretty easy,” Farr said. 

Despite the amount of talent they have returning for future seasons, Akina said that he and his teammates aren’t content with where they’re currently sitting, which may come as fright to those who will be chasing the Knights in the years to come.

“I’m playing well and the rest of the team is playing well, but there’s always room for improvement,” Akina said. “We’ve got to get better. We don’t want anybody to beat us.”

Class 6A state tournament

At Davis Park Golf Course

Team scores 

1. Lone Peak, 560

2. Corner Canyon, 568

3. Fremont, 582

4. Layton, 588

5. Herriman, 590

6. Farmington, 594

7. Weber, 608

7. Pleasant Grove, 612

9. Syracuse, 616

9. American Fork, 616

Individual results

136 — Kihei Akina, Lone Peak

138 — Cooper Jones, Lone Peak

139 — Jack Wadsworth, Fremont

140 — Preston Smithson, Lone Peak; Ryker Lind, Herriman

141 — Zach Labrum, Corner Canyon

142 — Josh Savage, Pleasant Grove

143 — Zak Richins, Layton; Maddox Vincent, Corner Canyon

144 — Luke Kelley, Farmington; Max Landon, Davis; Bowen Mauss, Corner Canyon; Jackson Mauss, Corner Canyon;

145 — Cooper Cannon, Layton; Jalen Martinez, Syracuse

146 — Jack Tobler, Bingham; Urben Satiu, Lone Peak; Jett Iverson, Fremont