As the season comes to an end, Arcadia High School’s golf team hopes to take home the state championship in November.
The team recently participated in the Arizona Fall Preview Golf Invite and ranked first with a score of 573. They beat second place by 23 strokes throughout the two-day event.
Before the most recent invitational, the young men competed in the Antigua National High School Golf Invitational hosted by Hamilton High School, and the Dobson Classic hosted at the Dobson Ranch Golf Club. The team ranked fourth in each of those competitions, but at the Dobson Classic, they ranked first in their district, which includes the Saguaro, Chaparral and Desert Mountain High School golf teams.
“This is the most competitive team in the last five years,” Coach Jason Jones said. “You’ve got some of the top golfers – probably half a dozen of the top 50 in the nation – here.”
Jones said that Arcadia High School is blessed to have the second-best ranked player by the Arizona Junior Golf Association: senior Gavin Aurilia.
“He is poised to help bring his team the state championship,” Jones said.
“This year has been a lot of fun, from getting to know new teammates to getting to know the ones I knew even better,” Aurilia said. “We hope to win state this year, and our team is capable of doing it. We all just have to do our parts and play golf.”
Close behind Aurilia is another senior, Ethan Klose.
“He is understated in his accomplishments but completely overstated in his talent,” Jones said.
In addition to the team’s high-ranking seniors, Jones said the underclassmen players help move the team along and are maintaining their focus for the future. He said that the team is very focused and is hungry for a state championship.
“We held our breath this year because we didn’t know what the COVID protocols would be,” Jones said. “One of the saving graces of golf is COVID didn’t greatly impact it.”
Jones pointed out an increase in golf play in Arizona since it allows for social distancing. The team was eager to compete this season, and they were excited to be given the opportunity, even during the pandemic.
Last season, Jones said he had a competitive team, but they let themselves down at the end, only coming in third at the state tournament.
“We just didn’t trust our ability to close the door,” Jones said. “We walked away with a lot of regrets. Despite the competition, we were the better team. We just didn’t show it.”
They are eager to win the trophy this year and to right the wrongs from last season. Aurilia and Klose are especially driven as the state championship is the ranking guide for colleges.
Next year, Jones hopes to elevate the players and bring these underclassmen to a higher competing level.
“Two of my top players are going to graduate and move on to bigger and better things,” Jones said. “Next season, I want to ensure there is some consistency amongst them.”