Truckee boys win state golf championship — first title since 2009
As members of the Truckee boys’ golf team rode home from Pahrump, Nevada, last year, they talked about the state championship Boulder City had just won and what it would take to claim a title of their own.
The Truckee program had only qualified individuals to the tournament in past seasons and hadn’t had a full team at state since winning the championship in 2009.
This season, a talented group of underclassmen sought to return the program to prominence, pushing the Wolverines to an undefeated regular season and earning a team berth into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association 3A State Boys Golf Championship for the first time this decade.
During the two-day tournament at Genoa Lakes Golf Course, Truckee would storm back from a two-stroke deficit after the first round of play to defeat defending state champions Boulder City by 17 strokes. The Wolverines combined to shoot a 46-over-par 622 to claim this year’s Class 3A state championship.
“From the beginning of the season our goal was to win the state championship,” said sophomore Ethan Flynn. “And to get that done, that was awesome.”
The tournament began on Monday, May 13, under windy conditions at the 6,140-yard, par-72 course in Carson Valley.
Boulder City opened the first round by shooting a combined 22-over-par 310 to sit two strokes ahead of Truckee for first place.
Individually, the Eagles Blake Schaper and defending state champion Jared Smith, of Western, carved up the course with each player shooting 3-under-par.
Truckee freshman Gabe Smith led the way for the Wolverines with a 75 to sit in third place. Flynn shot a 77, followed by sophomore Jack Brown, who carded a 78. Truckee junior Owen Slusher shot an 82, junior teammate Mason Cutler carded an 87, and senior Ryland Ward shot a 99. The top four scoring players are combined to make a team score.
“I feel like I could’ve played a little bit better — all of us could’ve played a little better the first day,” said Brown on Monday’s opening round. “And then we were just talking about it all night about how we were going to go lower tomorrow.”
Wind continued to test the players at Genoa Lakes during Tuesday’s final round, but unlike every other team in the field, the Wolverines managed to improve their score from the first round, shooting a 310 to take a 17-stroke win over runners-up Boulder City, who finished with a two-day score of 639. Pahrump was third with a score of 681, followed by South Tahoe at 683, and Lowry with a 729.
“Tough conditions out here. It was really windy both days,” said Head Coach Marc Smith. “They knew they had their work cut out for them today after being down by two strokes yesterday. It was cool to see them step it up and get through some tough holes and still manage to take home the title.
“These guys, they’ve been playing golf together for a long time. It’s good to be able to see them do something together as a program.”
Individually, Western’s Smith held on for his second straight title, carding another 69 to go 6-under for the tournament. Boulder City’s Schaper was second with a 144. From there it was Truckee rounding out the top five. Flynn finished third with a 150, and following the tournament was named Northern League MVP for the season.
“Being league MVP is something I wanted to be,” said Flynn. “I started off well this year, and then went through kind of a swing change, but I was always grinding.”
The highlight of Flynn’s state championship tournament came on the final day at hole 11. The Truckee sophomore carded a double bogey the day before, but managed roll his drive up to within five feet of the hole on Tuesday to set up an eagle.
“I tried to hit a little cut, got a good bounce, and it rolled up there to five feet and I made the putt,” said Flynn. “Other than that the front nine was a struggle. I had a lot of wedges in and couldn’t capitalize, and ended up making three bogeys. But to comeback 2-under on the back, that was clutch.”
Truckee’s Smith finished in fourth place, carding a 155 in his first high school state tournament.
“I just wanted to make the game simple for myself, make pars,” said the freshman. “If I had to make a bogey, make a bogey. Just try to post as low of a score as I possibly could.”
Individually, Smith finished in second place this year in the Northern League standings.
Brown rounded out the top-five finishers with a 157. He finished last year’s state tournament in 19th place, and finished third overall this regular season for Northern League players.
“I definitely scrambled this whole two days. I made some really good putts and made some really good up and downs,” said Brown.
“We have a pretty stacked this year and hopefully it will be like that for the next couple years.”
Truckee’s Slusher finished tied for seventh with a 160. Slusher finished in fourth place individually in the Northern League standings.
Cutler carded a 177 for the tournament and Ward shot a 200.
Truckee was also this year’s academic champions.
“These guys all put in a ton of work this summer, and even throughout the winter,” said Coach Smith. “A lot of hard work, a lot of driving, a lot of time in the van — we’re a close-knit group now and I hope these guys remember this forever.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.