Camaraderie was key as Desert Mountain won Boy’s Golf State

Desert Mountain boys golf team at the State Championship (photo by Andy Anderson)

Desert Mountain boys golf team at the State Championship (photo by Andy Anderson)

After winning the state championship in early November, Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain High School boy’s golf team has had some time to reflect on its season and how they ended up on top.

Since the end of the season, Sean Tessmer, formerly the assistant coach, has been named the Wolves’ head coach.

He says one of the key contributors to the state championship was now former head coach, and McDowell Mountain Golf Club Professional Kevin Neel.

“It really took the efforts of a golf pro named Kevin ‘Coach’ Neel,” Coach Tessmer said in a Dec. 8 phone interview. “He was the one who really kind of piloted the program and worked with the kids. We had a very small program four to five years ago.”

Coach Tessmer says Mr. Neel saw potential and natural talent in kids who were playing other sports at Desert Mountain and asked them to join the golf team.

While Mr. Neel worked on the technical side of the game, Coach Tessmer says he handled the administrative business as well as team camaraderie.

“Even though they are individual players and it is an individual sport, we at Desert Mountain pride ourselves in building that camaraderie,” he said. “Building that camaraderie is really important and one of our biggest pieces was going on a trip up to Flagstaff for a tournament.”

On Oct. 17, the Wolves placed second overall at the Mountain Ridge Invitational in Flagstaff, but there was plenty of success leading up to that trip.

Desert Mountain Golf Team at the Dobson Ranch Invitational (Andy Anderson)

Desert Mountain Golf Team at the Dobson Ranch Invitational (Andy Anderson)

In four other invites, Desert Mountain’s lowest finish was second place, and they came out on top of two of the events. At the Scottsdale City Championships, the Wolves placed first overall with a team total score of seven under par.

“We consistently dominated by saying second wasn’t our best,” Coach Tessmer said. “Even the golfers would be downcast and melancholic when they got second place. There was always an expectation of success within the kids’ minds, instilled originally by Coach Neel, and reinforced by myself and the parents throughout the season.”

Being positive was another key to the Wolves hitting their stride.

“Instead of a spiral downward, like if you don’t do this, you’re going to be punished, it was a spiral upward,” Coach Tessmer said. “It’s saying that you can succeed and we’re waiting for you to do that. If you make a mistake, that’s okay, we know you can do this.”

While the Wolves were seemingly cruising through their season, sweeping all of their head-to-head matchups as well, the Flagstaff trip taught them what it takes to win.

“Us getting second place in Flagstaff was kind of a realization that we needed to step up our game in order to win a championship,” Sophomore Justin Terry said in a Dec. 8 phone interview. “We came together in Flagstaff, but we didn’t finish the job and we learned from that and eventually did that in state.”

Coach Tessmer says the Flagstaff invitational was pivotal because the team spent more time together, supported each other and bonded over playing an NBA 2K video game during breaks.

After Flagstaff, the Wolves won one more match, and then took on state.

“We all had confidence and we knew we could do it,” Terry said.

Desert Mountain came out on top at the state tournament, according to AZPreps365.com, scoring a two-day total of 574, two under par. The Wolves fought off the second-place team, Brophy College Preparatory, by one stroke.

“The expectation was to win state the last couple years,” Coach Tessmer said. “We did it this year and we’re really proud of our kids.”

Members of the 2015 State Championship team are: Brock Anderson, Michael Drolet, Max Engel, Matt McCarty, David Ricciardelli, Justin Terry, Tyler Tobar, Brian Wada, Justin Wada, Chase Wicklund and Max Wicklund.

Scottsdale Independent Sports Correspondent Justin Maskulinski can be contacted at jmaskulinski@newszap.com. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/Maskulinski.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.