After back-to-back second-place finishes at the Class 4A state boys golf meet, Zane Thomas should be chasing the individual title this season.
But the Arbor View senior's focus is on a different goal: helping his team get to state.
"It would be the best," Thomas said. "I've taken the lonely drive to Reno for state twice -- and (competed at state) here the other time -- and it would be nice if there were some teammates to support me and who I can support."
The Aggies' captain and UNLV signee has one more chance to get it done, and perhaps the best opportunity will come this season.
Thomas, the Aggies' only senior, is surrounded on the squad by three players who average 18-hole rounds in the 70s, including his freshman brother, Van.
"We've both been looking forward to (playing) on the same team, probably since he was 5 years old," said Zane Thomas, a golfer since he was a toddler. "We knew we'd have one year, when I was a senior and he was a freshman, to play together. He's such a competitor."
Competitor is an understatement.
Van Thomas, who won the Las Vegas City Invitational last summer, might be playing the biggest role in his older sibling's improvement this season.
"It's making Zane focus a little more this year," Arbor View coach David Fish said. "He doesn't want to get beaten by little brother. And on a good day, Van has been shooting even-par and better. He'll push big brother at times. He doesn't like losing to his little brother."
Zane Thomas is a regular on the junior golf circuit, posting a 434-217-19 record in match play that includes six wins over the Top 25. He also won the Las Vegas Junior Open in 2010.
In his high school career, Thomas was state runner-up as a sophomore and junior, trailing only Coronado's A.J. McInerney two years ago and Foothill's Taylor Montgomery last year -- both future teammates of Thomas at UNLV.
Even in his freshman season, Thomas finished tied for 11th at the state meet.
"He's competed against A.J. so much, but he would really like his team there -- to help them and have them help him," Fish said. "There's more comfort when you have your team there, and pride, too. He's been the face of the team for the last three years."
Thomas committed to UNLV almost simultaneously with McInerney, and the duo signed national letters of intent on the same day. Montgomery, a junior, followed less than a year later, and while the local trio are a dynamic pickup for the Rebels, Thomas believes the recruits earned the better deal in being able to work with renowned UNLV coach Dwaine Knight.
"He's a legend," Thomas said. "Coach Knight is like the John Wooden of college golf."
Arbor View is rounded out by Cody Piper, a transfer from Washington who placed ninth at that state's Class 1A meet, and three-year golfer Nick Bible.
"It's my most experienced team since I took over the boys program four years ago," Fish said. "It's kudos to Silverstone Golf Club. A couple of these kids are members there, and the membership really supports us. They take a lot of pride in it."
Contact reporter Sean Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0430.