Patriots golfers pose for a photo after winning the Kingman Invitational on Friday. From left to right are freshman Austin Brusso, senior Zach Neal, senior Dakota Gillman, sophomore Josh Neal and senior Trevor Price.

BULLHEAD CITY — Mohave Accelerated Learning Center Patriots senior golfer Dakota Gillman entered the Kingman Invitational at Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course on Friday red hot.

After Gillman’s performance in Kingman, one might consider dousing MALC’s white-hot golfer with a few buckets of water to cool him off.

Gillman, who was a sixth-place medalist in the 2018 Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II state championship, fired a 6-under 66 to win the individual title, as the Patriots shot 38-over par to win the team title at the invite.

“Everything was just going right,” said Gillman in describing his performance. “My wedges were great.”

Patriots head coach Scott Gillman said Dakota Gillman is a two-time state qualifier and is consistently MALC’s low scorer.

Coach Gillman added: “(He’s) the backbone of the squad.

“Individually, Dakota Gillman blistered Cerbat Cliffs with excellent iron and wedge play thoughout the 18-hole match.

“His putter got hot and he made       seven birdies.”

He added: “Dakota’s play was amazing. He was firing on all cylinders and he proved today that he is one of the best high school golfers in the state.”

Coach Gillman said Cerbat Cliffs is not an easy golf course.

“Its test is thick rough and fast greens,” Coach Gillman added. “To score, you have to drive the ball accurately and putt well.

“Dakota put it all together and made golf look easy.

“He anchored his team to our second straight Kingman Invitational title; I’m a proud coach and father, right now.”

Walden Grove’s Gabriel Escalera came in second place at 2-under 70, Lake Havasu’s Daniel Dion third at 1-over 73, Lake Havasu’s Cody Ayers fourth at 2-over 74 and MALC senior Trevor Price fifth at 4-over 76 during the invite, featuring six high schools. 

Price shared one first-place title with Gillman, and Gillman has earned the four other individual titles during MALC’s five matches this season, as the Patriots have won all of their team competitions this season.

“Price brings a wealth of experience to the team and has a golf game that has made him a two-time state qualifier, as well,” Coach Gillman said. “He opened up this season with an individual win at Cerbat Cliffs and was favorite entering the Kingman Invitational.”

Coach Gillman said Dakota Gillman entered the Kingman invite as the reigning champion and his Patriots entered this season’s invite as the defending team champions — as MALC beat all of the bigger schools it faced a year ago.

MALC, which is 13-0 this season, was followed by Lake Havasu at 50-over, Walden Grove at 78-over, Lee Williams at 82-over, Page at 93-over and Kingman at 101-over on Friday.

“The Kingman Invitational provided some great competition for the Patriots,” Coach Gillman said. “Lake Havasu was their main competition, (as) lead changes occurred several times throughout the match.”

Senior Zach Neal, who placed 10th at 17-over 89, brings a lot of high school golf experience to the squad and he is capable of shooting even-par scores,” Coach Gillman said. “He is a natural athlete who is a three-sport letterman.

“The coaches are looking for more consistency out of him.”

Sophomore Josh Neal, who placed 16th at 22-over 94, has entered his second season on MALC’s golf team, Coach Gillman said. He is a natural athlete who is a three-sport letterman.

“He is coming into his own as a golfer and had a 40-foot winning birdie putt for the team during a match in Flagstaff earlier this season,” Coach Gillman said. “And he has a great attitude and believes he can win.”

Coach Gillman added: “Austin Brusso, who finished 20th at 28-over 100, is very new to competitive golf and (has) shown a lot of potential. In the golf team’s first match of the season at Cerbat Cliffs, Austin posted a 6-over par 42 in the nine-hole match.”

Coach Gillman is bursting with pride.

“I’m very proud of the hard work our team has been putting in. We are up at 5 a.m. every morning for practice.” he said. “These men have been working very hard on all aspects of their game and thus far it has paid off.”

Statistics courtesy of MALC assistant coach Scott Neal.


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