PHOENIX – Hamilton High School has a long history of being a golf powerhouse in Arizona.
Holding onto nine state titles in boys golf, the Huskies aren’t searching for just an old state championship this season. Their eyes are locked on what could be the fourth straight title for Hamilton, adding to the list of many accolades the school holds.
Though there has been a great deal of success for the Huskies in recent years, with competition brewing between rival Brophy, this season could be their toughest test yet to win the state championship. The 2022 Division I Arizona State Championship will be held Wednesday and Thursday in Tucson, where the Huskies look to once again defend their title at Omni Tucson National.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the number of titles Vincent Cervantes won.
“It’s a challenge here in Arizona playing against the best teams, and we’ve got some really strong competition,” Hamilton coach Steve Kanner said. “Our goal, and I know the kids’ goal, is to come out on top at the end of the state tournament.”
Brophy was the runner-up last year in Tucson for the championship, finishing 27 strokes behind Hamilton.
This year, the Broncos have fought back in the race, finishing ahead of Hamilton as recently as just last week when the teams played at The Peaks Invitational in Flagstaff. The Huskies fell to Brophy by six strokes in the end.
Even with a Hamilton loss, junior Vincent Cervantes still has the Huskies steered in the right direction. Cervantes finished with a score of 68 in his final round at The Peaks Invitational and finished tied for second in the tournament.
“I’m not sure we’ve seen the best from Vinny (Vincent) yet. Every year he seems to be getting better and better,” Kanner said. “He’s maturing as a player, as a person, strength wise he’s showing some outstanding skills, and the sky’s the limit for Vinny.”
To finish last season, the PGA National High School Golf Association ranked Cervantes 25th in the country, earning top-ranked linksman in the state of Arizona.
Cervantes shot 12-under par at Omni Tucson National in the Arizona state championship last year to finish in first, rewarding the young star with his first individual state championship after finishing three strokes ahead of teammate Anawin Pikulthong.
For Cervantes to achieve his second individual championship and Hamilton to four-peat in this competitive year of golf in Arizona, the team needs to be running like a well-oiled machine.
“There’s not a lot of kids like him,” Hamilton senior Wyatt Chapman, a commit to the University of Marquette, said. “I think in my opinion he’s the hottest in Arizona right now, so we’re pretty fortunate to have him on our team.”
During their championship streak, the Huskies have been at the top of their game in the later months of the year heading into postseason play. That success has carried into the postseason. Hamilton had four players finish in the top five of the state championship last year, leading the Huskies to shoot 35-under par as a team and finish 27 strokes ahead of second-place Brophy.
“Throughout the season, we’re getting stronger and stronger, and our team chemistry is getting better,” Chapman said. “These last couple events going into state are going to be pretty crucial for us.”
Though Cervantes made it clear he wants the team to succeed first, college and playing Division I golf are on his mind. The NCAA’s recruiting rules allow him to have contact with college coaches, and he’s keeping his options open in finding the right fit.
“I’ve just recently been able to talk to coaches and I’m super excited for that,” Cervantes said. “I’ve still got some time, but hopefully staying in-state or out of state anywhere … I’m really excited for college.”
Until then, Cervantes will continue to tear up courses in the Valley with one monumental individual goal on his mind.
“Win individual two more times,” Cervantes said confidently.