The Arizona High School Fall Preview golf tournament at Grand Canyon is bringing in teams from around the state, but at its heart the tournament has Mesa roots.
There will be teams from Lake Havasu, Prescott and Tucson coming to the Valley to play in the 24-teams boys tournament to open the season.
The tournament is split in two divisions and named after two Mesa products who have made the PGA Tour. One division is named after Red Mountain graduate Charlie Beljan and the other after Dobson grad Chez Reavie.
“Not only did both of these guys make it, but both men continued and still continue to support their schools,” Red Mountain coach Frank Campos said.
The tournament has been moved to Grand Canyon where the general manager is Red Mountain product Jesse Meuller.
It has developed into a great opening tournament because it separates the power teams from the teams that will struggle to make the state tournament.
“With a field that big, and many teams with different skill levels, (Mountain View coach) Chuck (Powell) and I decided to create two divisions, mainly to recognize more kids,” Campos said. “Starting at Dobson (where he coached), I knew how hard it was for teams who were not always competing for the championship to have motivation to do well. Plus, there were, and still are, a lot of great golfers on teams that are not state qualifiers who I felt deserved some recognition.”
Most of the boys teams from Mesa will be in the tournament this weekend.
Here is a look at how the area teams stack up.
Desert Ridge – The Jaguars return two competitors from last year’s squad that finished seventh in the Division I state tournament in seniors Gavin Hultman and Raul Fragoso. Sophomore Noah Allen will provide another reliable stick.
Dobson – The Mustangs are hoping the difficult 2016 is a thing of the past after qualifying one individual for state last year. This year’s roster has two seniors in Christopher Brusnahan and Diego Venagas along with juniors Ian Jones and Chad Trumble.
Mesa -The Jackrabbits hope to set the foundation for the future with a roster that doesn’t include a senior. Juniors Cody Taylor, Craig Lindblom and Griffin Groscost can help Mesa develop the next few seasons.
Mountain View – The Toros are coming off a difficult season when the team failed to qualify for the state tournament. It looks to be a bounce back year as the 10-man roster has five seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.
Red Mountain – The Mountain Lions finished 11th at the state tournament last season and bring back last year’s top finisher Cameron Barzekoff, who shot a 73-73-145, while Abraham Elmore and Britton Liming were top 50 placers.
Skyline – The Coyotes enter the year without a senior, but have four juniors in Christian Duncan, Austin Ewert, Matthew Pope and Joshua Young to build something the next two years.
Westwood – The Warriors also have a young roster with only one senior in Michael Backlund along with four juniors.
Desert Ridge – The Jaguars have two leaders in senior Kaitlynn Criswell and junior Brooke Beyer, but will need sophomore Rianna Garland and a few others to step up.
Dobson – It looks to be a difficult season for the Mustangs as Alison Cote, Kennedy Jackson and Gabby Dawson started the year shooting between 48- and 51-over par to lead team.
Mesa – The Jackrabbits are in rebuild mode behind Eliza Porter, Ariel Franks and Janett Barron.
Mountain View – The Toros have a solid squad behind Madison Pattea, Victoria Beltran and Sadie Rosenbaum.
Red Mountain – The Mountain Lions could be building up toward a top five finish at the state tournament behind Nicole Ewing, Kyndall McBean, Sydney Bryanm Meghan Singh, a transfer from Hawaii, and Belle Balkan, who finished sixth at state.
“This year’s team has a great mix of returning and new players,” said coach Jeff Kain, who came over from Hamilton. “Our goal is to continue to build on the success of last season of a top four state finish and improve into the top three.”
Skyline – The Coyotes will be in most matches, but will need some improvement throughout the season to get the state tournament. The charge will be led by Kiana Russo, Hanna Hyman and Kaprice Faraci.
Westwood – The Warriors have a chance to be one of the better teams in the East Valley Region led by Emila Yoon with Erin McGuire and Xena Whang providing some depth.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.