Carson's Chirila finishes strong at golf tourney

John Chirila found himself five shots out of first place Wednesday after the first round of the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Boys Golf Tournament. Nobody was better than Chirila on Thursday, as the Carson High School senior carded a 73 to climb up into a fifth-place tie to finish the 36-hole tournament at Dragon Ridge Golf Course.

Chirila, one of five players to shoot 73 during the final round, finished with a 151 total to finish in a three-way tie for fifth and only two shots out of first. His was also the best finish by a player from the North.

Bishop Gorman's Mark Leseberg finished at 149 (75-74) and beat Dana Wade of Bonanza in a playoff to earn medalist honors. Durango's Mitch Carlson and Chris Loughney finished one shot back at 150.

Durango held on to win its first state team championship in boys golf with a 776 score, just ahead of Bonanza's 780. Durango tied Galena for the No. 1 spot but lost a tiebreaker to the Grizzlies last year at Hidden Valley Country Club in Reno.

Galena shot 403 on Thursday to finish fifth in the standings with an overall 818 score. Matt Kinsinger led the Grizzlies with his 153, including a final round 74, and sophomore Bryson Young shot 155 to finish 15th. Travis Whisman, who was bidding for his third straight state individual title also finished at 155.

Chirila nearly walked off with one of the tournament's five individual medals, but he lost a three-way playoff for the No. 5 spot when Green Valley's Scott Drew birdied the first hole of sudden death. The finish was still special, according to Carson coach Paul Croghan.

"As far as I can remember, this is the best individual finish at state Carson has had," Croghan said. "I'm happy for John. He had a good, solid senior season."

Josh Bratzler and Toby Steele both finished with strong rounds on Thursday. Bratzler shot 79 and Steele checked in with an 82. Overall, they finished with respective scores of 166 and 169.

Steele was also presented with a spot on the 4A academic all-state list.

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