The Rapid City Stevens boys golf team has already won its first two full tournaments of the season, the West River Open and the Pierre Invitational and will look to make it 3 for 3 at the Huron Invite this weekend.
But as we found out today, the Raiders have far loftier goals in mind for this season.
The Rapid City Stevens boys golf team entered the 2018 season with big expectations after losing just one senior from a team that fell one agonizing shot short of a state championship last year ...
Payton Phares said, "It's just been motivation just having that one stroke there from a state title ... it's just been in our mind and made us work way harder this offseason and just trying to get to that ultimate goal of a state title."
The Raiders depth will be key as they prepare to put themselves back in position to win a state championship ... a title that would be the school's first since winning six in a row from 1994 to 1999.
Nick Rotella said, "They know that there's not really that much pressure on any one athlete because we are such a deep team. We have, I think this year in our three tournaments we've kept scores from all six of our athletes, so any one person can step up on any day, so if any one person is having an off day I think they are well aware that someone else will pick up the slack for them."
With a deep, talented roster that has seven different players that can all go low ... one of those players says practices are cutthroat, while competitions become a little less pressure-packed.
Phares said, "Any one of our guys can shoot low, our five and six man can step up an place in the top four. Any one of us can be that guy that goes low and helps us out. You know you always want to go out and do your best but having the fact that you know if you have an off day someone can pick you up, that helps a lot."
The Raiders hope that this particular mix of talent, depth and motivation will be enough to put them over the top when the season ends at Brookings Country Club in October.
Rotella said, "It was a tough one stroke loss at the state tournament last year but we only lost one senior so we have a lot of talent returning back from next year, or from last year, and we started the first season out the goal was to be state champ and we didn't quite get there, so that's our goal this year and all the kids are on board and we've started off playing some really good golf."