Talent out, talent in. That’s how Xavier Prep maintains golf supremacy – and why the Gators are state champs again. This one makes it 30 team titles.
When last year’s high school golf season ended, defending Division I girls state champion Xavier Prep said goodbye to its top player, Sarah Schmelzel, who graduated. That left the Gators vulnerable to being overcome by Hamilton High School, which vies each year with the all-girl Catholic school in Phoenix to see who gets to take the team trophy home.
The rest of the schools play for third place.
One or the other school has claimed the state title for the past five years, with Hamilton generally settling for runner-up, except in 2010 when they topped the Gators and broke Xavier’s stretch of 12 years as the team title holder.
Xavier’s prayers were answered when Hannah O’Sullivan moved from California to Arizona and enrolled there for her freshman year. She has stepped into Schmelzel’s shoes and led the Gators to this year’s Division I state team title – while also earning the individual title.
The freshman made the difference this year, as Hamilton and Xavier were tied at 291 going into the final round Saturday. But the 14-year-old birdied four straight holes to lead the Gators to a nine-shot victory, 574-583. The finish was almost as close as 2011 when the Huskies came within four shots of the crown.
O’Sullivan finished the tournament with a 12-under 132, opening with a 4-under 68 on the Aguila Golf Course in Phoenix, and then adding a sizzling round of 8-under 64 to break both the one-day and two-day state tournament records.
The Xavier team included sophomores Madison Kerley and Ariana Macioce, and seniors Anne Straneva and Megan Hauptman. And, as Xavier’s head coach for the past 39 years, Sister Lynn Winsor, pointed out: “You don’t win a state championship without five girls putting their heart and soul into it.”
And the same can certainly be said for Hamilton, which placed three girls in the top five finishers: Saki Iida (2nd), Mikayla Harmon (3rd), and Yesong Kim (4th). Iida and Harmon both finished under par, with Iida firing a 4-under 140 and Harmon was 1-under at 143.
Pinnacle High School in Phoenix came in third and also provided a little of the excitement for the event, as Megan Knadler dropped in a hole-in-one on the par-3 13th hole – the fourth of her young career.
Megan Knadler finished the tournament at 151, while her sister, Kaylee, tied with Macioce for fifth place, each carding a 145.
In Division II, defending state champion Salpointe Catholic made a huge statement about where the power resides in that division.
Last year the Lancers ran away with the team title, beating runner-up Notre Dame Prep (Scottsdale) by 38 strokes. This year the Tucson school crushed the competition in an even greater display of domination, carding a team total 599 to beat runner-up Cactus Shadows High (Cave Creek) by 64 strokes.
And while the team was pocketing a repeat win of the team title, Kystal Quihuis picked up her second straight individual title. The Salpointe junior shot a 4-under 66 on Friday and added a round of 71 to wrap up a 137 overall total.
All of the top three individual finishes in Division II went to Tucson-area athletes this year. Morgan Messick, a sophomore from Canyon del Oro High School, double-bogied the final hole but still managed a runner-up finish with a 141 total, and Desiree Hong, a sophomore from Sahuaro High School took third with a 148.