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Jessica Williams is ranked third in Division II but, with Sahuaro standouts No. 1 Taylor Hughes and No. 2 Kathryn Ottman already attached to a qualifying team, the Amphitheater senior is set to be the top at-large competitor at state.
The girl’s D-I playoffs will be held at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen and the D-II playoffs will be played the Del Urich Golf Course in Tucson. Both will be held from Nov. 2-3.
Williams has only been playing golf for three years and she got into the game in a curious way.
“I won a custom driver in a drawing at the Accenture Match Play Championship a few years ago and that’s how it started,” Williams explained. “I started playing in the summer and I’ve been getting better every year. Now I would love to play in college.”
Williams would like to be an aerospace engineer and will graduate with a degree from Pima this spring along with her high school studies. Her options are obviously wide open.
Likewise, Marana juniors Marisol Benavidez and Alexis Pico should also be part of the group of 21 at-large competitors in D-II. With Vanessa Leiterman now a freshman at South Mountain Community College, the leadership role has been handed down.
“This feels really good,” Benavidez said on making her first appearance at state. “I’m excited and nervous at the same time.”
Benavidez realized she had a shot when she started looking at the rankings a couple of weeks ago as did Pico.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” Pico said. “I’ve been competing for about three to four years and I’m pretty excited.”
Pico wears a constant smile and I’m sure it will be a bit brighter come tournament time. The excitement is evident when you talk to the girls about state but they all still have about ten days to prepare.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Williams added. “But it will be fun.”
As mentioned before, Sahuaro has qualified as a team and so has Cienega. Both teams won their respective sections. Catalina Foothills and Canyon del Oro have at-large bids as a team. Marana just missed out making the cut as a team.
Salpointe qualified for D-I as a section champion and Ironwood Ridge qualified as an at-large team. Buena junior Brianna Lewis is the only individual from Southern Arizona to earn an at-large bid.
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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com