Coronado boys golf coach Joe Sawaia is accustomed to watching his players compete with each other in practice.
So he’s not surprised when the Cougars push each other while facing golfers from other schools.
That was the case Wednesday, when Coronado surged to the lead through the first round of the Class 4A Sunrise Region tournament at Dragon Ridge Country Club.
Cougars sophomore Tad Darland and freshman A.J. McInerney shared the individual lead, carding 3-under-par 69s. Coronado posted a 372 team total, well ahead of the only other team to score, Green Valley (406).
“They’re very focused and there’s a really healthy competition each day when we practice,” Sawaia said. “They compete against each other on a daily basis, and I think that’s kind of what we’re seeing now. We’re seeing the effects of that competition.”
Darland and McInerney were followed by teammates Kenden Slattery (77), Kevin Stratton (77) and Jimmy Burris (80).
The Cougars were so deep, they had two nonscoring individuals shoot 85 or lower — Ryan Rom (82) and Alex Kosh (85).
“In my eight years coaching men’s golf and 15 years women’s as well, I’ve never seen three players play so consistent for such a long period of time,” Sawaia said of Darland, McInerney and Stratton.
Darland and McInerney shot identical 33s on the front nine.
“I was a little bit rusty coming into today because I took a couple weeks off, had some health issues, but overall I’m pretty happy with how I played,” McInerney said. “A couple mistakes but overall an OK day.”
The final round begins at 11 a.m. today at Mountain Falls Golf Club in Pahrump.
Because Las Vegas had two individual withdrawals Wednesday, Coronado and Green Valley have all but locked up the Sunrise’s only two team entries to the state tournament. The top five individuals from nonqualifying teams also will reach state.
Ryan Green shot a 74 to lead Green Valley, followed by Michael Sadler (78), Trevor Graziano (83), Amaan Hussain (84) and Zach Morris (87).
Las Vegas’ Ray Gillip (71) had the top score among individuals from nonqualifying teams.
“I played OK today,” he said. “A few mess-ups on the back, but it was an all right day.”
Silverado freshman Josh Fisher carded a 78. Others in the hunt after the first round include Las Vegas’ D.J. Padron (81), Chaparral’s Rick Carrillo (84), Las Vegas’ Adam Perea (85) and Foothill’s Bailey Rogers (86).
Gillip said Mountain Falls should provide an opportunity for lower scores than Dragon Ridge.
“It’s way easier,” he said. “It’s nothing like this. There’ll be some low scores (today), that’s for sure.”