The Carson Senators golf team has been forced all year to prove it is a good cold-weather team. The challenge at the Carson High Invitational at Silver Oak Golf Club was to prove it could play in ideal conditions as well.
The Senators rose to the challenge on a sunnny and warm Thursday and held off a charge by Bellarmine (Calif.) to take their fifth tournament in a row and remain undefeated this season.
Carson, which took a 21-stroke lead into the day thanks to Wednesday's 379, shot a collective 382 to finish at 761. Bellarmine, which was led by Peter Singh's 6-under 65 on Thursday, finished second at 775.
Spanish Springs finished third (786) followed by Sonora (Calif.) and Nevada Union (Calif.), which carded 801 and 811, respectively.
"We did good. Matt (Mitchell) had a little trouble today, but the other guys stepped up and improved today," said third-year Carson coach Rod Butler. "The score stayed within three shots of (Wednesday). One guy struggled, but the other guys came through. It turned out to be just as good."
Mitchell, who had a 1-over 72 on Wednesday, endured a rough front nine to finish with an 82 on Thursday for a combined 154.
"Scary," was how Mitchell described his day. "I started off the front nine with a 43. I hit four shots out of bounds."
The senior nearly hit a fifth ball out of bounds on No. 18, but officials ruled it in bounds.
"I had a good par-3 on 7 and a double par-5 on 3," Mitchell said. "I had four bad swings. I didn't have any problems mentally. I had a 39 on the back nine, which was nice, pretty solid."
Mitchell also birdied 9, 10 and 14.
"It was just basically a matter of getting it out of my mind," Mitchell said of his adjustment on the back side. "It was nice having another victory. I like the way our younger guys (Zack Rispin and Spencer Brinson) pulled through and held me up. All around it was a great team effort."
Senior J.T. Cockerill carded a 72 to finish at 145 - good enough for second place behind Singh (138). Scott Jenkins took third (146), finishing with a 1-over 72. D.J. Milligan, of Nevada Union, finished fourth with an 811.
Rispin had a solid tournament, shooting a pair of 75s. Brinson's 81 was a four-stoke improvement on Wednesday's 85 and Steve Hein had a non-scoring 84 to improve on his previous round of 86.
Although the Senators have locked up the Sierra League already with its consistent play, Mitchell and Jenkins were among several Senators who said they are taking things one tournament at a time.
Even with his third-place finish, Jenkins wasn't pleased with his play.
"The course was in great condition, but I let a couple of strokes go," said Jenkins, who bogeyed the par-3, 185-yard No.14 and had a double-bogey on 15. "I had a good front nine (32), but I let it slip away on the back by just not paying attention. I would've liked to have gone under today. But it comes down to putting and you can't make them all."
Even so, Jenkins still managed to birdie 1, 3 (517 yards), 9 (514) and 16.
Cockerill was another player who wasn't happy with his individual play - especially his short game - but he was pleased with his team's overall performance.
"I'd like to play a lot better," Cockerill said. "I had a lot higher expectations to shoot a lower score. But we kept it down and didn't let something too bad happen. It's good to win our home tournament (as a team). We have two more matches, including one here (at Silver Oak). We have to make sure we keep playing better as we go to zone and state. Spanish Springs played us really well. Galena didn't have its top six guys. They had one or two (top players). They'll be really good competition for state. So will Fallon."
Butler said Carson has never won state and that it hasn't even made state since the '90s. But for now, as with his team, he said it's time to concentrate on the near future.
"We want to finish out and win our last two tournaments," Butler said. "We want to go undefeated this season. We have to play the same consistent game and, if we do, we should win the last couple here."
Butler said his team only got a small look at Galena (Dan Wittinger shot a 70 on Wednesday, but withdrew Thursday), but that he was impressed with the Cougars.
"I was real surprised with Spanish Springs," Butler said. "I didn't expect them to post as low as they did. They were within (two) shots of us (with a 384 Thursday). They didn't play bad at all. Galena and Fallon are the top two teams (in the High Desert League), but you can't underestimate anyone else. Spanish Springs showed if you put two good rounds together, you can be tough to beat."
Carson will host a Sierra League tournament on Tuesday at Silver Oak before closing the regular season in Genoa.
Notes: Kevin Fannan led South Tahoe with a 153, Will Watchman led Galena with a 159 and Trevor Mitchell was low scorer for Douglas with a 169.