Looking back: Skyline repeats as golf champs
May 27, 2020 12:37PM
By Travis Barton
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Editor’s note: With spring sports shut down, the Millcreek Journal decided to look back on some of Skyline High’s athletic feats this year, like the boys golf team repeating as 5A state champs.
Three years, three very different experiences for the Skyline boys golf team.
2017 saw the Eagles jump out to an early lead on day one, only to fall back to the pack on day two, finishing tied for third, watching neighbor Olympus hoist the trophy.
2018 saw another first day finish atop the leader board (with the third best single day score in history with 279). Then a second day where the team coasted to a state championship ending the day 19 strokes ahead of second-place Farmington.
2019 had the same result, but a different journey.
The Eagles had torched the regular season finishing multiple tournaments where all eight varsity players were almost under par or the top four’s score were double digits under par. At the region championship, seven players finished in the top 12.
“We had a lot of very strong performances that really showed how good this team could be,” senior Abe Thomas told the Millcreek Journal recently. “It gave us a lot of confidence that we could win state.”
But at the Wasatch Mountain Golf Course for the state tournament, the boys didn’t play their best, head coach Kenny James said.
“But our depth carried us through so it was truly a team effort,” James said.
While no player shot under 71, none of the scores were too high either. A three-shot lead on day one dwindled to one on day two’s final hole, but sophomore Sean Lam’s par on 18 sealed the back-to-back- championships.
“We have some amazing golfers, amazing talented young men that can do amazing things,” James said.
Lam finished with a team best 145 that tied for fourth overall. And Lam wasn’t even the team’s best scorer throughout the season.
Junior Tyson Shelley, who finished overall runner-up in 2018, finished with a 147. His 75 on day two wasn’t counted with the top-four score.
But with the consistency of freshman Peter Kim, junior Simon Kwon and Lam, and junior Joseph Kim’s nine-stroke improved score on day two, the Eagles talent across the board proved to be too much.
“Our depth really was amazing,” James repeated. “It’s just a special group of guys.”
The team celebrated the moment with the ceremonial jump into the pond. Something James said he would only do if everyone jumped in.
“I walked over and saw that everyone was soaking wet and I thought, 'oh crap,'” James recalled.
Looking back, Thomas said he’ll remember how many great players were on that championship team.
“I am basically in shock because that was such an amazing roster that we had,” said Thomas, who James credits as the corralling senior leader.
Just about all of them could play collegiately, James said. Shelley has already committed to BYU.
Thomas noted how the team was so good, their biggest competition was each other.
“We were all very competitive, but we were also very supportive where you wanted each other to do very well. I want to beat the other players on my team because that's how you get to the top,” Thomas said. “There was never cheering against each other, but we were always pushing each other to our limits.”
That healthy competitive spirit really drove the team, elevating each player’s confidence, James said.
“It's fun to be around that (confidence) and they bring out the best in each other, they challenge each other to do great things,” he said.
Which can be crucial, especially in a sport that is more individual than team. James highlighted how Shelley was less concerned about his individual status at state and more concerned about how it affected the team.
“It’s an individual sport first, but I love the fact that these guys, their No. 1 goal is they want to win the state championship. The other stuff is secondary,” James said.
“They each have their own goals—college, professional—but they've all been willing to buy into the team concept and say, ‘hey while we're here together, let's do some amazing things.’”
What could also be considered amazing is other than Thomas, the entire varsity team returns this fall that also includes Spencer Clayton and Charlie Thomas. And that doesn’t mention the additional talent coming up.
“This team is going to be really good the next couple of years,” Thomas said.