Marauder team looking for No. 2 spot in the region and a ticket to State

The Mingus golf team has played four matches so far this season and the young golfers are starting to find their confidence out on the course while the top three are trying to find their momentum.

Twelve golfers make up the Marauders golf team. Those 12 consist of three seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. The younger players, a bit timid and nervous at first, are starting to find some even ground emotionally when they hit the courses, and they are all improving on their scores week by week.

The first game the Marauders competed in was at the Sedona golf course. That was their first chance to see what the competition is going to be like this season. One thing was apparent, Sinagua is going to have a great year and the Mingus kids aren't too far behind.

Sinagua won the event in Sedona by more than 20 strokes, Bradshaw Mountain, a team that is new to the Marauders' region came in second. Mingus took third, with all of the Marauders shooting in the 90's and Coconino rounded out the field in fourth place.

"The kids had only seen the course once this year and they did alright," said coach John Uidenich.

The next match-up, on Aug. 30 was cancelled due to some impressive lighting and rain coming down that day. That game should be made up as soon as they get it into their schedule.

On Sept. 4, the Marauders traveled to Flagstaff to take on the Eagles along with Bradshaw Mountain and Sinagua. Again, Sinagua showed what a powerhouse they are this year, and won the match.

"I think we have a good chance at second place this year," said coach Uidenich. "Two teams go to State and Sinagua could actually win State, they're that good."

Over the weekend of Sept. 7-8, Mingus went to the Bradshaw Mountain Invitational. The Marauders didn't bring their "A" game by letting three of the top five golfers stay back, dealing with the emotional part of the traffic accident that involved five Mingus cheerleaders, some of whom the golfers are very close with.

Instead, the Marauders' face off against many 5A schools weakened. They faired OK under the circumstances and it gave some of the other golfers a chance to get some experience playing against other teams.

On Thursday, the Marauders hosted their own Mingus Invitational at Oak Creek Golf Course. Nine teams attended. Bradshaw Mountain was the only team from their region. Out of the nine teams, the Marauders placed in the middle at fifth.

Sunrise Mountain won the event with a 320, followed by West View with 354, Moon Valley with 355, Ironwood with 363 and Mingus 369 to round out the top five.

Senior Ryan Roland led the Marauders with a 90, followed by transfer student Josh Barton with a 91, Nick Muelhausen had a 92, sophomore Rich Paynter shot a 95 and Josh Sauntman shot an even 100.

Paynter is the biggest surprise for the team according to coach Uidenich. He is new to the team and although he was shy at first, he is coming around fast and is looking well. Someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

"We still have a lot to work on," said coach Uidenich. "They do a lot better in practice, but they get nervous."

The nervousness is slowly going away which just leaves some great young golfers. Coach Uidenich and coach Craig Mai are working with the team on their putting and chipping to help their short game whether they get into trouble off the tee or not.

They still have nine golf matches to go before regionals in late October, which will be in Flagstaff although the course hasn't been nailed down yet. The top two teams in the region will advance to State. Last year the team finished third in the region.

Next up for the Marauders will be a golf match in Prescott against Bradshaw Mt. And Mohave on Sept. 18. Then they will be off to the Buckeye Invitational, which will be good experience as that is where the State golf match will be this year.

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