Saenz ends prep link career tied for 65th at state

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Morenci junior Madison Delgado follows her drive down the course.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Morenci Class of 2018 member Robert Saenz had fun in Tucson last week, ending in a two-way tie for 65th of 82 finishers at the 2-day Division III state golf meet on the Omni Tucson National course concluding May 9.

Saenz carded a 187 for the 36-hole meet with a day one total of 96 and a day two mark of 93.

“I did as well as I thought I would,” he said.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Morenci Class of 2018 member Robert Saenz tied for 65th of 82 finishers at the Division III state golf meet last week. He is the fourth Morenci qualifier, behind 3-time participant Nicholas Austin Saiz, in the school’s eight-year history.

The school’s 14th meet, an added May 4 outing in Bisbee, helped cement his state meet participation.

“I shot a 38 in Bisbee to go up to number 11,” Saenz said. “I was borderline at number 15 in the at-large qualifiers.”

His best state meet 9-hole low was 43.

All of his preparation, since first going out for the team as a freshman, was building up to this season. He took advantage of the school’s athletic development class, lifting weights to strengthen his back, legs, and arms, and running to build up his stamina.

“Not all courses allow you to use wheels for your clubs’ bag,” he said, adding, “you do a lot of walking and the clubs are heavy.”

Saenz encourages others to go out for the sport. “Come out and practice, give it your all.”

The soon to be Morenci alumnus is only the second in the eight-year program to qualify for the state meet, behind 3-time qualifier and class of 2015 member Nicholas Austin Saiz.

Saiz ended 72nd of 165 finishers with 175 (83, 92) as a sophomore, in a 3-way tie for 42nd of 96 as a junior with 165 (79, 86), and in a 3-way tie for 29th of 85 as a senior with a 166 (83, 83).

“We didn’t have enough low scores to qualify as a team,” said first-year head coach David Gonzales. “Saenz was our only qualifier.”

Saenz preceded the state meet with the duel in Bisbee and a May 1 stop in Safford.

Photo By Raymundo Frasquillo: Class of 2019 member Michael Wirkus clears debris in front of his ball in preparation for a putt attempt.

The Wildcats came in nine strokes behind Bisbee, 179-188. Saenz carded a 38, junior Michael Wirkus 48, senior Matthew McCarthy 50, and junior Madison Delgado 52. Senior Illeana DeJesus had a 54.

Morenci also came in second to the host in Safford, totaling 200 with Saenz carding a 45, Wirkus 47, Delgado 48, and both DeJesus and McCarthy 55.

Inconsistency plagued Morenci golfers, ending with seven different foursomes in seven April and two May outings totaling 99 holes. Of the five representing the school in the season opener, Saenz and senior Jude Perez along with Delgado, junior Maya Martinez, and Wirkus, only Saenz and Delgado did so in all seven April meets plus in both May meets.

Saenz carded a 41 and Delgado a 50 during the season opener on Feb. 27, and both averaged close to the same during April and May, Saenz 42.8 (471) strokes and Delgado 50.2 (552).

Martinez and Perez both had 57 strokes in the season opener, but Martinez was in the top five four times, once finishing in the team’s top four with a 54, and Perez made the top five twice. Martinez averaged 56.2 (281) and Perez 55 (165) in April. Wirkus averaged 49.6 (381) while being in the top four during six of the seven April meets and in both May meets.

Three others, senior Illeana DeJesus attended all seven April meets and both May meets but helped score team points in seven, averaging 47.5 (475); senior Matthew McCarthy was in the top four thrice with a 50; and junior Thomas Hollestelle stepped on the course once, coming in fifth with a 72.

During the final three meets in March, Saenz, Delgado, and Wirkus all finished in the top four, averaging 45 (135), 55.3 (166), and 52.7 (158), respectively, while McCarthy represented the school in each meet, but ended in the top four twice, averaging 59 (177).

Martinez made the cut once with a 57, and both Perez and senior Jaime Salazar were fifth with 64 and 61, respectively.

However, the above averages are not based on the formula used to determine the iWR (iWanamaker Rating) based on the USGA handicapping system.

Others out for the team were junior Christian Alva, sophomore Matthew Zumwalt, and freshman Richard Valenzuela.

State Meet

Thatcher placed fifth of 14 teams with 667 strokes (347, 320) as Caleb Scarlett tied for fourth with a 2-day total of 146 (75, 71), Hannah Spiller tied for 24th with 162 (80, 82), Zach Wood was 53 rd with 177 (98, 79), and Jackson Palmer tied for 57th with 182 (94, 88). Kaden Lofgreen was 78th with 207 (108, 99).

Safford tied for eighth with 680 (363, 317) as Cameron Abril tied for 17th with 158 (83, 75), Jake Tellez tied for 22nd with 161 (89, 72), Logan Henrie 52nd with 176 (95, 81), and Josh Romero 63rd with 185 (96, 89). Dylan Thompson was 72nd with 196 (98, 98).

Tellez finished 25th with 153 (78, 75) in 2017, tied for 46th with 171 (87, 84) in 2016, and tied for 59th with 178 (85, 93) in 2015.

Logan Adams of Willcox tied for 14th with 156 (78, 77) plus ended 19th with 148 (68, 80) in 2017 and 36th with 164 (79, 85) in 2016.

Frankie Capan of Northwest Christian topped the field of 82 finishers with a 129 (70, 59), also ending first of 87 in 2017 with 134 (62, 72).

Chandler Valley Christian, runner-up in 2017 with 604 (296, 308), captured the 2018 team title with 599 (303, 296).