DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Amazing Gators claim 7th golf title in a row

Xavier Prep athletic director and golf coach Sr. Lynn Winsor said Tuesday (Oct. 31), “I just loved our season.’’

And why not? The Gators had just finished their seventh straight Division I state championship run and 35th overall.

It also was the 130th state championship in the history of the school (all sports) and the 201st division/section crown.

The two-day tournament featured competition at the beautiful courses at the Tucson Omni Resort. Xavier had a total of 591, nine shots better than second-place Chandler Hamilton (600).

Xavier Prep's Gators were all smiles after winning their seventh straight golf state championship and 35th title overall. (Photo courtesy of Sr. Lynn Winsor).
And sophomore Ashley Menne, who shared state medalist honors with two others as a freshman in 2016, was medalist again, this time all by herself. Earlier this week, Menne earned another honor when she was named a Rolex All-American Honorable Mention.

In the recent past, the state tournament was played at the City of Phoenix course in Laveen called Aguila. The Omni’s two courses are the Sonoran and the Catalina. The Sonoran is somewhat mountainous, almost as vertical as it is horizontal, and the up and down aspects can make for a long day. The Catalina is more of a “traditional’’ layout. The course was the site of the Tucson stop on the PGA Tour for about 40 years.

“The courses were tough and were a good test for everyone,’’ Winsor said. “The pin placements were difficult, to say the least.’’

The girls played the Sonoran on the first day and the Catalina on the second day (the boys were the reverse).

Following Xavier and Hamilton were Phoenix Pinnacle (617), Mesa Red Mountain (617), Phoenix Horizon (662), Gilbert Highland (679), Phoenix Desert Vista (694), Mesa Desert Ridge (712), Scottsdale Desert Mountain (718), Gilbert Perry (726), Tempe Corona del Sol (784), Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (785), Mesa Mountain View (794) and Gilbert High (847).

Menne shot a 69 on the first day and a 71 on the second for a 140. Sandra Day O’Connor’s Michelle Nguyen was in a duel with Menne both days and finished with a 142.

Xavier’s future appears to be very bright, because all five of its players in this year’s tournament were underclassmen. The team has just two seniors.

Freshman Lauren Garcia finished seventh (74-75 – 149), sophomore Millburn Ho was 12th (72-80 – 152), sophomore Breyana Mathews was 13th (73-80 – 153), and junior Eve Worden was 18th (78-77 – 155).

The girls played the courses in an early season invitational tournament and went down on a few other occasions to familiarize themselves with the conditions.

The girls added to the spirit of day by wearing colorful, Halloween-themed socks. Some of them even pictured spiders.

“We (Winsor and co-coach Tui Selvaratnam) were proud of all the girls,’’ Winsor said. “We had the whole team down here supporting the ones who were playing, and had a great response from the parents, especially since it was all the way down in Tucson.

“Our team was so together this year. The camaraderie and the friendship. The girls really worked hard at getting along. Whether it was the 14th player or the first, they all felt a part of it. That’s what made it all so enjoyable.’’

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