Talented freshman Dallas Rensch -- in only his third varsity start -- leads a contingent of five Longhorn golfers into action tomorrow, Wednesday, against Holbrook Winslow and Fountain Hills. Tee time is 3 p.m. at the Rim Golf Club.
Coach Dave Bradley said he expects the lineup to include Tyson McKee, Tyler Perna, Keith Stevens, Tyler Scrum and Rensch.
At the River Valley Invitational held March 9 and 10 in Needles, Calif., Rensch -- despite his youth and inexperience -- stamped himself as one of the Longhorns' best by swinging his way to a second-place tournament finish.
His two-day, 36-hole total of 152 was only four strokes off the winning tally (149) turned in by a Needles High School athlete.
On the first day of competition, Rensch carded a 79. The second day, playing into wind gusts Bradley estimates reached 25 mph. He finished with a sterling 73.
"He had one heck of a tournament," Bradley said.
The youngster is recognized at Payson High mostly for his basketball abilities, but if he continues to achieve in golf as he did in the River Valley tournament, hoops might soon take a back seat to links play.
The efforts of Rensch at River Valley propelled the Longhorns to a third-place finish in the 15 team field.
By tallying a 636, Payson trailed only Needles (628) and Sedona (611) in the final team standings. With a 645, Wickenburg was fourth.
Following the Longhorns return from California, Bradley lauded the play of Sedona which he said had five golfers shoot in the 70s. Because it is a Class 2A school, the 3A Longhorns -- state runners-up last season -- will not have to face Sedona in the state tournament.
That'll be one less hurdle to face as the Horns set out on their quest to earn the school's first state golf state title.
In addition to the efforts of Rensch at River Valley, the Horns were buoyed by the play of Tyson McKee and Tyler Perna who tied for 13th with cards of 157. Freshman Tyler Schrum turned in 85s on both days to finish at 170. Jeff Higgins, in his first varsity start, tallied a 174 (82 and 92).
Bradley said he was especially proud of the team's effort on the second day after finishing the first in fifth place.
"We shot a 324 on the first day, then improved to 313 which was the second-best score for that day," he said.
The Longhorns opened the 2000 campaign March 1 at their Chaparral Pines home digs, finishing in a sister-kisser with East region rival Show Low.
In the four-way match, the Cougars and Longhorns deadknotted for top honors with cards of 180. Snowflake (210) was third and Blue Ridge (214) fourth.
Top honors in the fray went to a Show Low athlete who was able to tally a commendable score of 39.
"He is the son of the (golf) pro at Silver Creek (near Show Low)," Bradley said.
Payson's best effort -- a 41 -- was turned in by McKee. In addition to the upcoming varsity encounter at the Rim course, the Longhorn schedule includes jayvee matches March 15 at Snowflake and March 22 at Silver Creek.
All East region teams are slated to participate. Tee time is 2 p.m.