The Higley High School boys golf program capped off one of its best seasons in program history with hardware, as the Knights captured the Division II championship in Tucson.
“It felt fantastic,” Higley golf coach Ted Horn said. “It was a culmination of all the long hours on the range, the lessons, the tournaments. It was a great feeling.”
The Knights finished 28-over par at the Catalina Omni Tucson National, scoring a total of 612 over the course of the two-day event. The Knights beat Cactus Shadows (+33), two-time champion Arcadia (+38) and Notre Dame Prep (+43) to claim the title.
Damon Vilkauskas placed the highest for Higley in the tournament, as the senior shot 5-over on to finish 10th. Brady Wilson, a junior at Higley, finished tied for 11th by shooting 6-over. Josh Nielsen and Colton Horn also contributed to Higley’s team win by placing 17th and 26th, respectively.
“We didn’t really have any standout performers,” Horn said, “which is rare in golf. The entire team played really well. It was basically all of them coming together.”
Higley led after the first day of the tournament, which Horn admits made him nervous. But the Knights continued to play well on the second day, maintaining a slim lead heading into the back 9.
It wasn’t until the final three holes that Horn and the Knights knew they had the championship won. But it was close.
“I was a little nervous because you always want to be chasing people down the stretch,” Horn said. “Down the stretch our kids buckled down and played like champions.”
The championship win was the first in program history for Higley, which began competing in 2015. It was also the first for the school district, which includes both Higley and Williams Field.
Horn credited the team’s annual Fall Break trip to Florida for preparing the team to make a run to the state championship. The Knights played back-to-back Florida state champions Ponte Vedra High School in an 18-hole tournament at TPC Sawgrass. The Knights then traveled down the coast to West Palm Beach to play in the 36-hole Honda Classic at PGA National. Higley also played at The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia between tournaments.
Higley will return all but three senior golfers next season, and will likely be a favorite entering the 2020 season to repeat as champions. However, Horn knows there is no guarantee of that happening, especially with programs such as Arcadia that reload on a yearly basis.
“We know we are going to be good,” Horn said. “But you never know what can happen. Who knows, Arcadia or another school could get two outstanding freshmen come in their program.
“But we feel really good about our outlook for next season. I’m excited.”
Higley boys golf roster
Josh Nielsen, Sr
Colton Horn, Jr
Brady Wilson, Jr
Aadith Mosur, Jr
Damon Vilkauskas, Sr
Kai Heiner, Jr
Declan Mulqueen, Jr
Nicolas Becerra, Fr
Reed Wright, Fr
Bo Xiong, Jr
Dalton Lamb, Sr