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Boys state golf tourney won’t lack challenges

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Golf is an individual sport than sometimes comes attached with team aspects.

The boys state golf tournament will be held Oct. 7-8 at Pinehurst Country Club in southwest Denver, and there will be golfers competing for the individual title and battling themselves trying to figure out what club or shot to use, how to manage the lie, adjusting to the weather conditions and planning how to avoid the bunkers next to the greens.

But many golfers on qualified teams also have to keep an eye on the team standings and keep their scores low enough that when the three lowest individual scores are added up, it puts their team in contention for state honors.

The top two teams in each regional qualifying tournament held Sept. 23-25 qualified four-player teams, but only the lowest three scores will be counted on each day of the two-day state tournament.

“You have to be consistent in the state tournament,” said Cherry Creek coach Mark Goldsberry. “You have to have three kids you can trust to put out there that can consistently throw you something in the 70s for you to have a chance. And good as high school golf has gotten in the last few years, if you can have your No. 1 maybe throw up something under par, that really helps. You need a stud and a couple stabilizers to stabilize your scoring and give you a chance to win.”

It might be dangerous, but if regional qualifying scores are any indication with teams that qualified all four golfers, defending state champion Fossil Ridge has to be one of the team title favorites after winning the Northern Regional.

Arapahoe, which was third a year ago, captured the Southern regional and a Cherry Creek team with three freshmen and a junior took the Central Regional. Rock Canyon won the Western regional.

Other teams to watch include Regis Jesuit, Highlands Ranch, Broomfield and Fairview.

“There are going to be some good teams there,” said Highlands Ranch coach Jon Cushing. “It is just grinding for everything in the state tournament. You have to battle for every shot. First day might not go too well, but the second day you can walk away with the state championship. The kids have to know that 18 holes is long enough but 36 over two days and you have to fight for every shot.”

Last season, Fossil Ridge was six shots back after the opening 18 holes, but after a good second round it won the state title by five strokes.

Once again, judging from regional tournament scores, players on the watch list as possible individual state contenders include Northern regional medalist Gavin Hagstrom from Fossil Ridge, who had a 5-under-par 67 at the Broadlands Golf Course.

Arapahoe’s Matthew Wilkinson took the Southern regional title with a 4-under-par 67 to edge Bo Wardynski of Regis, who was 1-under-par with a 70. Ryan Liao of Lakewood was the Central regional medalist with a 2-under-par 70 at South Suburban golf course as he edged Cherry Creek freshman Charlie Flaxbeard, who finished with a 71. Rock Canyon’s Nick Fallin and Fairview’s Ryder Heuston each had 2-under-par 70s to share medalist honors at the Western regional, but Fallin won a playoff.

Liao, a junior, will have only one Lakewood golfer to accompany him at the state tournament, but he know what it takes to contend at the state tournament after coming in fourth last season.

“You have to stay focused and you have to know when to relax,” he explained. “No one can stay focused for 36 holes.”

Pinehurst, a course lined with trees and undulating, fast greens with varying sizes, will present a challenge for the golfers.

“To win a state title,” said Arapahoe coach Harry Buckner, “it takes three words: chip-n-putt, chip-n-putt, chip-n-putt. To win a team title you have to stay away from double bogeys. Bogeys won’t hurt you but doubles and triples will take you out of the running.

“The problems with Pinehurst are small greens and lots and lots of trees. If you fight with the trees, you will lose.”

Honor roll

Each week, performances of South Metro athletes and teams will be highlighted. This week’s performances were selected from games, matches and meets from Sept. 19 through Sept. 26.

Senior Haley Hoy allowed one hit and one earned run while striking out 13 batters in Castle View’s 5-1 softball win over Highlands Ranch on Sept. 23.

Junior Myles Purchase had a 95-yard kickoff return and also returned an interception for a touchdown on Sept. 20 as the Cherry Creek football team notched a 31-17 win over Pomona in a showdown of top 10 teams in the CHSAANow.com 5A rankings. Defense played a key role in the Bruins’ 49-7 win over Chaparral on Sept. 26 as the Wolverines managed only 37 yards rushing and 116 passing.

Brooke Ballard, a senior from ThunderRidge, went 3-for-3 and drove in both runs in a 2-1 softball victory over Regis Jesuit on Sept. 23.

Junior Ryle Kadel had 10 kills and a 66.7 kill percentage, five service aces and three blocks to help Legend’s volleyball team post a 3-0 win over Rock Canyon on Sept. 24.

Senior Casey McCloskey scored both second-half goals to spark Regis Jesuit to a 2-1 soccer win over Ponderosa on Sept. 24.

Jim Benton is a sports writer for Colorado Community Media. He has been covering sports in the Denver area since 1968. He can be reached at jbenton@coloradocommunitymedia.com or at 303-566-4083.

Jim Benton

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