Region 9 sports roundup: Desert Hills starts strong in girls tennis; updates on other fall sports

Desert Hills girls tennis players gather before their home region match vs. Cedar, St. George, Utah, Aug. 23, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Dave Smith, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Nearly two weeks into the school year, high school fall sports action is building up. Here’s the latest Region 9 high school sports recap.

Girls tennis

Lyndsi Graf returns a serve in her final against Lone Peak at the inaugural Ashton Invitational, Utah County, August 2018 | Photo courtesy of Dave Smith, St. George News

The Desert Hills Lady Thunder are poised to defend last year’s region championship. In Thursday’s home match against Cedar, the Thunder won all five of its varsity matches handily, with four of the matches being scored 6-0, 6-0 and one being 6-1, 6-0. It marked the first official region match of the season for both teams.

Last weekend, Desert Hills, along with Region 9 rival Pine View, took part in the inaugural Ashton Invitational Girls Tennis Tournament hosted by northern schools, Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove and American Fork. The event featured some of the top girls tennis teams in Utah.

At the tournament, Desert Hills girls defeated Bingham and American Fork in their first two rounds. Pine View lost to Springville and Timpanogos before beating Skyridge in the Compass Draw.

Desert Hills then met defending state 4A champion Park City in the semifinals in a matchup of two of the best 4A teams in the state. The Thunder defeated the Miners 5-2, with straight-set wins by all but two of the Desert Hills girls.

“We really have been preparing for this season over the past two years,”  head coach Dave Smith of Desert Hills said. “We wanted to send a message to Park City who has won the state title the last three years, that there was a new team to contend with.”

Desert Hills girls tennis players and coaches pose with runner-up trophy at the inaugural Ashton Invitational, Utah County, August 2018 | Photo courtesy of Dave Smith, St. George News

While Park City’s top two players, twins Gabby and Livi Rockwood won the Miner’s only points, the depth of the Thunder girls was apparent in every other match. Faith Hess won 6-2, 6-4 at number three singles, Tia Turley only gave up one game in winning 6-0, 6-1 at fourth singles.

Desert Hills top doubles team of senior and 2017 state champion Lyndsi Graf and freshman Averee Beck took out Park City’s number one team 6-4, 6-3. Also for the Thunder, twins Cassie and Callie Kohler defeated their opponents 6-1, 6-1 at second doubles. Anjoli Cummins and Malika Maxwell knocked off the third doubles team of Park City with a 6-4, 6-3 win. Also for DHHS, Tia Turley went 4-0 without a single loss during the tournament.

Desert Hills then faced 6A powerhouse Lone Peak in the tournament finals and came up short to the Knights in a well-played final.

“We had won the Spanish Fork Invitational the past two years,” Smith said, adding, “This Ashton Invitational featured some of the very best teams in Utah. We really wanted to push ourselves and get some highly competitive tournament play as we start the season.”

The tournament certainly provided that with such top-ranked teams as Springville, Ridgeline and American Fork, in addition to Lone Peak, Park City and Desert Hills.

Desert Hills captains Morgan Behymer (No. 1 singles) and Lyndsi Graf (No. 1 doubles) pose with the team’s runner-up award at the inaugural Ashton Invitational, Utah County, August 2018 | Photo courtesy of Dave Smith, St. George News

The Ashton Invitational is sponsored by the co-founder of WordPerfect Corp, Alan Ashton, who was on hand for the trophy presentation.

“I am so impressed with the quality of play the true sportsmanship showed by all the girls in this first event,” Ashton said.

With a runner-up finish at state last season, Smith and his talented team are building a highly competitive program.

“We have only one senior (Graf) out of our top 14 girls, and with two freshman, two sophomores and two juniors, making up our top seven varsity players, (with Graf), we are looking to only get better with time and experience,” Smith said.

The Thunder have 43 girls on their team, making it the largest in the state, which Smith says also is helping build a strong program.

“We have 25 girls that could play varsity on virtually any team in state,” Smith said.

In fact, Smith said his players in slots 21-27 played Canyon View’s varsity in a non-region match in Cedar City last Thursday (with the Thunder’s top 20 players being up at the Ashton Invitational), and defeated the Lady Falcons 5-0, giving up only three total games in the five matches played.

“We don’t cut, and you would be amazed at how good the lower girls on the ladder get by the middle of our season,” Smith said.

Next up for the Lady Thunder will be the Stephen Wade invitational tournament in St. George Friday and Saturday.

Boys golf

Lucas Schone of Pine View tees off at Sunbrook, St. George, Utah, Aug. 23, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Steve Schone, St. George News

The second Region 9 meet of the season took place Thursday at Sunbrook Golf Club in St. George.

With three of the top five scores, the Desert Hills Thunder took first place with a team score of 308. They were led by Ashton Davison, who shot a 73, Cruz Kirchhusen, who shot a 75, and Curtis Matheson, who shot a 76. Those were the third, fourth and fifth best scores of the day.

Pine View sophomore Lucas Schone had the top overall score, firing a four-under par 68 over the 18-hole course. Dixie’s Fei Quek posted an even-par 72 to take individual runner-up honors.

The scores and standings for Thursday’s match are as follows: 1. Desert Hills (308); 2. Dixie (318); 3. Pine View (329); 4. Hurricane (335); 5. Snow Canyon (337); 6. Cedar (347); and 7. Canyon View (398).

Football

Interregion football games don’t start for another couple weeks, but three Region 9 teams will be playing at home Friday night, with Desert Hills hosting Salem Hills, Pine View hosting Highland and Cedar hosting Juab. 

The other four Region 9 teams will be on the road this weekend, with Hurricane playing at Stansbury, Snow Canyon at Ridgeline in Cache County and Dixie at Legacy in North Las Vegas on Friday night. All games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. local time (Dixie’s game begins at 8 p.m. MDT).

Then, on Saturday, Canyon View will travel to Coconino High School in Flagstaff, Arizona, to take on the Kingman Academy Tigers at noon Utah time (11 a.m. MST in Arizona).

Cross-country

Six Region 9 schools kicked off the season the evening of Aug. 16, at Cedar High’s “All Comers” meet, which featured more than 350 athletes participating.

Desert Hills took first place in the girls race, with senior Bailey Brinkerhoff leading the way with a time of 18 minutes flat. Right behind her with a time of 18:01 was senior teammate Samantha Nelson. They were followed by the Pine View duo of Jessica Hill (18:06) and Alli Baker (18:07). Also placing among the top five was junior Lauren Leukenga of Desert Hills, who finished in 18:27.

The girls team placings and scores were as follows: 1. Desert Hills (23), 2. Pine View (46), 3. Cedar City (72), 4. Canyon View (100), 5. Snow Canyon (150), and 6. Dixie (190).

In the boys race at the Cedar All-Comers meet, senior Hunter Jones of Canyon View finished first among 194 runners with a time of 15:28. His teammate Easton Brandt, also a senior, placed second with a time of 15:39. Two Pine View seniors, Nathan Beitler (15:48) and Julien Canales (15:52), placed third and fourth, respectively. Brady Bettridge, a junior at Cedar, and Tyler Nance, a junior at Desert Hills, took fifth and sixth, respectively, posting identical times of 15:55.

Pine View won the boys race with a score of 46, while Desert Hills and Canyon View tied for second place with 54 points apiece, narrowly edging host team Cedar’s fourth-place finish with 57 points. Snow Canyon was fifth with 165 and Dixie was sixth with 169.

Saturday, the SUU Invitational will take place starting at 9 a.m. at Bicentennial Park, 660 W. 1045 North, Cedar City.

Girls soccer

After a few nonregion preseason games earlier this month, Region 9 teams started interregion play Thursday, with Desert Hills hosting Hurricane. The two teams battled to a 1-1 tie.

The Cedar vs. Pine View game scheduled at Cedar Thursday afternoon was postponed due to weather, as a lightning storm hit just as the game was about to start, pelting the pitch with rain and hail. Coaches said the game has been rescheduled for Sept. 14.

Dixie is scheduled to host Snow Canyon Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Canyon View, which had a bye this week, will open its region slate with a game at Snow Canyon Monday at 4 p.m.

Volleyball

Region 9’s volleyball schedule starts Thursday, Aug. 30, with Cedar playing at Snow Canyon, Pine View playing at Hurricane, and Dixie playing at Canyon View. On Sept. 4, Cedar will host Desert Hills, Snow Canyon will play at Pine View, and Hurricane will play at Dixie. All games are at 7 p.m.

Sports scores, photos, statistics, and tips

High school sports fans, if you have information or photos to share, please submit them to St. George News / Cedar City news via email at the following address: sports@stgnews.com.

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