Spanish Springs and Reed represent the High Desert League, taking two of the conference’s top four berths — second and fourth respectively. First-round tee times for the two-day regional event start at noon Monday. Dayton Valley Country Club is a 6,637-yard, par 72 format for the region’s top golfers.
“We’ve had an excellent week of practice, probably our best of the season” first-year Reed coach Nick Nemsgern said. “The boys are excited for this opportunity. They’ve been staying after practice, hitting extra balls and putting in extra time on the putting and chipping greens. They are revvelling in the fact that whatever happens, they want to enjoy their last few days of golf.”
The North’s top two teams and top five individuals from non-qualifying teams will advance to play in the 4A State Championships, which will be played May 14-15 at the TPC of Las Vegas.
Spanish Springs finished second to Reno in all six of the HDL’s weekly tournaments this spring. The two HDL powers, along with Sierra League leaders Manogue and Galena, are the favorites to nab the North’s two team state bids.
“We actually have pretty high goals for ourselves,” second-year Spanish Springs coach Nick Wirshing said. “We feel like we’ve been close all year and that we’ve had good focus and practices this week. We don’t feel like winning a regional title is out of reach for us.”
While Spanish Springs has not competed against either Manogue or Galena in 2012, Wirshing has tried to study up on the Sierra League’s upper echelon and he’s compared scores throughout the season between the two leagues. The Cougars coach said he’d be surprised if the North’s two state invitations don’t come from the Spanish Springs-Reno-Manogue-Galena group.
“From looking at scores, I feel like those are the top four teams right now. Those four seem to be a little bit above the rest,” Wirshing said.
Spanish Springs is led by senior Jordan Gilmore, the defending North individual champion. Gilmore helped Spanish Springs to a state team title as a freshman when he was the individual state runner-up. Gilmore won five of the six HDL tournaments this season and held the league’s low scoring average.
“We’ve talked about him being the reigning champion of the North and he’d like to go out as a two-time regional champion for sure,” Wirshing said. “When he’s playing, he’s really competing against himself. I don’t think he thinks a lot about the end of the second day until maybe the back 9 of the second day. He does a good job of staying within himself.”
In addition to Gilmore, Spanish Springs will send five other golfers to Dayton Valley as it hopes to steal a state berth. Tommy McAllister, Cole Shirley, Matt Perera, Matt Beebe and Owen Bartlett make up the Cougars’ contingent.
Four of the six SSHS golfers have had the luxury of playing Dayton Valley multiple times in the past. Wirshing said his players have had team meetings to discuss the course and even taken the course’s virtual tour online, going over each hole shot by shot in hopes of maximizing their preparations.
“I really feel like we can get one of those two berths if we stay out of trouble, stay out of the water and stay out of the bushes,” Wirshing said. “If we do that as much as possible, I really feel like we’ll be one of those two state-bound teams.
“All of our guys have a number in mind that they’d like to shoot. Jordan’s goal is to be under par. If he can do that, and we can get two or three guys in the low 80s and two others in the mid to high 80s, then I like our chances.”
At Reed, the Raiders needed a fourth-place finish in the last HDL tournament of the spring, last week at Washoe Golf Course, to clinch their regional slot. Nemsgern admitted his team has no grand illusions of garnering a state berth. Like Wirshing, he thinks the state berths will come from the aforementioned foursome. Still, he and his Reed players do want to finish their season on a high note, by scoring as well as they possibly can.
“When I named our regional team, we were talking about what we had done this season,” Nemsgern said. “I think our home course of Hidden Valley plays a little longer but there’s no doubt that there are more pitfalls at Dayton Valley. Career bests would be nice but I asked the kids what they were thinking. Without missing a beat, every one of them said for at least one of the days, they were looking for a career best.”
Reed’s scoring all year has been paced by sophomore Trevor Wood, the only golfer other than Gilmore to win an HDL tournament this spring. While Reed likely won’t qualify for state as a team, Wood has a real chance to capture one of the Norths individual state berths.
“Trevor has lofty goals,” Nemsgern said. “He wants to go to state this year. He is singularly focused and excited about his chances. Since we got back from spring break, he’s hitting the ball as well as anyone in the North … It’s really about his attitude. If he keeps that together, I’m confident he’ll have success.”
After Wood, Reed will get five other golfers into the regional tournament. Dylan McKenzie, Tyler Carnahan, Dave Hibler, Wyatt Koski and Garrett Marchese will compete for the RHS squad when play begins Monday.