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Palo Verde accomplishes goal

When setting its goals for the season, Palo Verde’s boys golf team wasn’t exactly bashful.

“We’re dying to win state,” senior Chris Viravongsa said just days before the season started.

Mission accomplished.

The Panthers shot a second-day total of 408 on Tuesday at TPC Las Vegas to claim the Class 4A state title. Palo Verde finished with a two-day total of 799, 13 strokes better than defending champion Spanish Springs. Coronado finished third.

“Goal achieved,” Viravongsa said Tuesday. “We’re done. We got it.”

Viravongsa carded a 7-over-par 78 — one of only seven scores under 80 — on another blustery day when high winds inflated scores.

Classmate Erik Newkirk carded an 81 in the second round to finish tied with Viravongsa and two Spanish Springs golfers for fourth overall at 155. Coronado’s Tad Darland was the medalist with a 150.

“We’ve been waiting for this our whole careers,” Newkirk said. “When I came up (to) 18, I thought we would be getting it handed to us by Coronado, but we’re getting a ring.”

Kyle Melchiorre rebounded from a rough first day to post an 81. Josh LoManto and Cameron Bawden each carded an 84 as the Panthers were the only team with five players to shoot better than 85.

“These kids rose to the occasion,” said Palo Verde coach Jeff Wolfram, who led the team to its first state title since 2001. “The first year we won it, we were the underdogs. This year it was different.

“We talked about really finishing today. These kids finished.”

Darland, a freshman, won the individual title by two strokes over Bishop Gorman senior Kevin Collignon.

“The kid’s game is tailor-made for these kind of conditions,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said. “Nobody was better at getting up and down in this tournament. He has a great short game, and he’s just a competitor.”

Darland, who shot 73 on Monday, was 1 over on the front nine before struggling a bit on the finishing nine.

“I tried to give the tournament away on the back nine,” Darland said with a smile. “I’d rather have the team win, though. It’d be great to have a team title and add an individual title to it, but there’s always next year.”

Coronado, which entered the second round with a two-stroke lead over Palo Verde, was in the hunt for the team crown until a scorecard error resulted in a player being disqualified.

Zach Carroll, who shot a respectable 82, had two hole scores reversed on his card. The miscue meant the Cougars had to count their sixth score of 94, instead of Carroll’s score.

Coronado finished with a team total of 814. The 12-stroke difference would have given the Cougars a score of 802, which was not enough to win the tournament but would have resulted in second place.

“I’m disappointed for Zach,” Sawaia said. “He fought hard out there. It’s not the way you want to go out.”

Las Vegas’ Ray Gillip was third individually with a 154.

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