Riana Mission was already on Clark girls golf coach Aaron Dehne’s radar before she stepped foot on the Southwest magnet school campus in August.
“Her mom would forward me her scores from juniors (tournaments) and they were awesome,” Dehne said of his now-freshman. “It was like, ‘Holy crap. I’m getting this young lady?’ … I knew she was something special.”
Less than a week after going toe-to-toe with three-time region winner and Division I-bound Annick Haczkiewicz in the two-day Class 4A Sunset Region tournament, Mission is now looking to become Clark’s first individual state winner since Carrie Johnson in 1978.
The Class 4A state tournament runs Monday and Tuesday at the 5,579-yard, par-72 Highland Falls Golf Course. Coronado is the three-time defending state winner, while Cougars junior Victoria Estrada is the reigning individual champion.
“It would be pretty awesome (to win),” Mission said. “I know that the other girls are also really good, so I just have to do my best. But if I won, it would be like, ‘Wow.’”
Mission, who will tee off with the first group at 11 a.m., is one of few Southern Nevada underclassmen that is expected to contend for the individual title. She has played since she was 5 years old, competed in tournaments since age 7 and improved every day since her father introduced her and her sister to the sport.
This much is true: Mission is one of the state’s best at 14 years old and is a future Division I athlete.
“She’s a stunner when it comes to golfing,” Dehne said. “And really smart, too. She’s in our magnet program, and it’s a really tough one to get into.”
Mission tied or took medalist honors in four of the Chargers’ seven regular-season matches this season, including a 4-under win in the team’s first Southwest League match of the season on Sept. 11.
She finished last week’s Sunset Region tournament at 3-under-par 141 to place second and was one of two golfers — out of 62 — to go under par. Haczkiewicz, a Palo Verde senior who is committed to Brigham Young, needed the back nine at Bear’s Best to thwart Mission’s upset bid.
Dehne said Mission is the “best golfer” he’s had in 14 years of coaching, and believes the 5-foot-3-inch standout is capable of winning at Highland Falls despite going against a group of veterans and proven champions.
“She’s been preparing for her later years in golf for a long time,” Dehne said. “She’s a student of the game.”
A student of the game who has one final test this season.