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Warriors driving toward repeat state title

Steve Yingling

By expressing their confidence quietly the Whittell High Warriors aren’t discounting their chances of winning a second straight Nevada 2A golf title.

After all, the Warriors have a range bucket of reasons to think a repeat is realistic going into the Thursday’s opening round of state in Jackpot, Nev.

For one, the Warriors won the 2001 zone championship by 29 shots at the Jackpot Golf Club. So they know the course.

Secondly, Whittell’s starting six consists of five players who contributed to last year’s zone and state titles. Included in that talented group is defending state champion Ryan Salomon, who has his swing back in the groove after a disappointing zone tournament.

In addition, the Warriors are collectively playing their best golf of the season.

“Now we’re ready to go,” said Parker Fox, who finished sixth with an 83 the last time they played in Jackpot. “I guess you can say we slacked off a little (earlier), but now we’re serious. Once we started thinking about state, we’ve been practicing harder and getting down to business.”

And if they need additional motivation, the Warriors have a chance to become the first golf team in school history to defend their title.

“It has its good points and its bad points,” said Cary White. “We’re the defending champions, so there’s quite a bit of pressure, but if we all perform and do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll come home with a second title.”

Second-year WHS coach Steve Maltase, who Salomon good-naturedly calls the most improved player on the team, believes Needles, Incline and Southern zone champion The Meadows are the main threats.

“I think we have as good of a chance as we did last year,” Maltase said. “I think the competition is a little stiffer this year, but I know they’re capable of winning if they play up to their capabilities.”

After firing a disappointing 90 at last Thursday’s zone tournament, Salomon is anxiously awaiting the 36-hole conclusion of his prep career. If his 300-yard bomb that split the No. 1 fairway during Tuesday’s practice round is any indication of things to come, Salomon may repeat as well.

“I’d really rather play good and try to step my game up one more notch because it is the last tournament of the year and the last tournament of my career, for that matter,” said Salomon, who won last year’s state championship by two strokes. “Hopefully, I can shoot one of the best rounds of my life.”

Maltase just wants his star player to relax and enjoy the moment.

“I don’t want him to put too much pressure on himself, but I think he has high expectations,” Maltase said. “He put too much pressure on himself last week, being the defending zone champion.

“I just want him to go out and play as well as he can play, and let the chips fall.”

Salomon, who shot a 3-over-par 75 at Jackpot last year, remembers the course being forgiving on some holes and requiring precise shots on others.

“It’s not a real, real tough course,” he said. “You have a little margin for error and some holes it will eat you alive, but I think it’s a lot better that we know the layout of the course and it will definitely help us defend our title.”


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