Following the Division I state championship match last October, Cienega golfer David Rauer walked off the course with a sour feeling of disappointment.
That feeling, however, has been essential to his success this season and could lead to more down the road.
“I want to make a career out of golf,” said Rauer, who is 5 feet 9 inches and 145 pounds. “It’s a sport where you don’t have to be big or strong, so it’s different. Once I started practicing and starting to get better, I just fell in love with it.”
Rauer, now a senior, is arguably Southern Arizona’s top boys golfer. He can help prove it at the two-day, 36-hole Santa Rita/Flowing Wells Invitational, which begins today at Silverbell Golf Course.
The 18-team tournament is the same event where, a year ago, Rauer finished tied for 12th. Cienega edged fellow Division I foe Mesa Mountain View by four strokes to win the team title. The Toros eventually won the state title and the Bobcats finished 44 strokes behind, in 14th place.
“We fell apart in the state championship but the season was good as a whole,” Rauer said. “It motivated me for this year to get better.”
Mesa Mountain View will be back in the field this weekend but Rauer and Cienega coach Tim Nichols both believe Rauer can win the individual title.
With junior Colton Gage alongside Rauer — both have already qualified for the state tournament that begins Nov. 1 — Cienega has one of the best duos in Arizona.
However, the team, which graduated five seniors from last year, is still rebuilding and has yet to qualify for state as a team. That could change this weekend.
“If we played Division II, we’d be locked already for state simply by the numbers,” Nichols said. “We’ve been missing by less than five every match. We’re just that close, but David keeps us close.”
Rauer has spent the last year working on improving his mental game, something that affected him last year. He’s gone to a few bigger tournaments and, two months ago, won the boys 15-18 division of the second annual Michael Thompson Invitational at Oro Valley Country Club.
“It gave me a lot more confidence basically knowing I could compete with anyone in Arizona,” Rauer said.
Experience, especially this week, will not be a problem.
Later today, Rauer and the Bobcats will be returning from an annual weeklong trip to San Diego that solely consists of playing golf at Sea ’N Air Men’s Golf Club on Coronado Island. When Rauer steps onto the green at Silverbell today, he will have already sank 105 holes this week.
“He’s got that pro mentality,” Nichols said. “He feels like he can’t get beat and he’s working hard.”
With aspirations to be on the PGA Tour, Rauer, who has interest from Division I Southern Illinois, looks up to 20-year-old Texas native Jordan Spieth, who was named the PGA Rookie of the Year last week. He wouldn’t mind following in Spieth’s footsteps.
“He’s so young and he’s doing so good right now,” Rauer said of Spieth. “It makes me think of how much more I want to practice and get better like him.”
Eagles nearing 100th girls soccer victory
Mark Harting and the Desert Christian girls soccer team, which hasn’t given up a goal in the last five games, will have two chances to pick up the 100th win in school history today at the Old Pueblo Invitational.
The Eagles (10-1-1) are hosting the two-day tournament at Udall Park and will face Lakeside Blue Ridge at 1 p.m., then play Payson at 5 p.m. They are also scheduled to play Show Low and St. Johns on Saturday.
Harting has been Desert Christian’s only girls soccer coach and, along with assistant coach Sonny Cray, has taken the team to the Division IV state title game twice.
The Eagles have also reached the state semifinals five straight years. Desert Christian is the No. 1 team in the Division IV seedings but has never beaten Blue Ridge.
“I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t taste good,” Harting said. “But having a 100th victory against Blue Ridge would put a star on the side because of how good a team they are and how they’ve dominated us all along.”
2 coaches nominated for national honor
Catalina Foothills coach Jeff Scurran and Ironwood Ridge coach Matt Johnson were two of eight coaches from Arizona chosen by USA Today for the national paper’s Best High School Football Coach contest. The state round, in which only the winner advances, runs through Tuesday at 9 a.m. To vote, go to contest.usatodayhss.com, select Arizona and vote as many times as you like.
Lancers’ Cota reaches milestone in win
Salpointe Catholic’s 40-7 win over Tempe Marcos de Niza was a historic night for quarterback Andrew Cota. The senior became the first Lancer to pass for 5,000 career yards and post 50 career passing touchdowns. Salpointe improved to 5-0 with the win and is now ranked 27th in the nation by MaxPreps.com.
Foothills hosting volleyball tourney
Eleven Southern Arizona teams, along with one school from Nevada, will compete in the two-day Lady Falcon Invite at Catalina Foothills starting today at 11 a.m. Action resumes Saturday morning at 9 and the championship match should start around noon.