GJ’s Kinnaman wins golf regional; Fruita qualifies team for state

Boring golf. That’s what Grand Junction High School sophomore Donny Kinnaman called his round Monday.

Regional champ. That’s what the officials at the CHSAA Class 5A regional boys golf meet called Kinnaman after he fired a 1-over 72 to edge Central High School’s Preston Grandbouche by a stroke for the title at Colorado Springs Country Club.

Kinnaman and Grandbouche were among the eight players to qualify individually for the 5A state meet Oct. 1–2 at The Club at Rolling Hills in Golden, while Fruita Monument won the team title at the regional and will send its entire team — Will Berg, Troy Dangler, Hunter Emerson and Kelin Henke — to state.

Kinnaman, who qualified for state a year ago, won his first meet of the year.

“I couldn’t have picked a better day to play a better round,” he said.

He referred to his round as boring because he tallied 15 pars.

“I just played real steady,” Kinnaman said. “It feels good to actually play a solid round. I’ve been waiting for it all year.”

Kinnaman also was glad to avoid the drama he experienced at the regional a year ago, when he had to win a playoff to make the state cut. Instead, fellow Tigers sophomore Greg Gibson went the playoff route to grab the last individual state berth from the regional.

A rough start to his day — Gibson was 5-over after five holes and 8-over after 10 holes — was tempered by a strong finish as he was 2-over for his final eight holes. Gibson bogeyed his final two holes, though, which put him in a tie with Palmer High School’s Alex Gumper at 81.

The two went to hole No. 1, a dogleg par-5, for a playoff, where Gibson parred to win.

“I actually, surprisingly, didn’t have many nerves,” Gibson said.

Gibson hit a three-wood barely off the fairway to start the hole, laid up to about 100 yards, then landed a wedge two inches from the cup, and it rolled about six feet away. He two-putted for par.

Gibson said it was his best hole of the day, and Tigers coach Tom LeFebre agreed, saying, “Having his best hole in the playoff showed a lot of character on his part.”

Fruita Monument won four tournaments during the regular season, and Wildcats coach Dave Fox said of the fifth win, “This is the one that really matters.”

The Wildcats’ Emerson led the way Monday, carding a third-place 74, while Will Berg tied for fourth at 75, and Troy Dangler followed at 76.

“Hunter was very consistent,” Fox said of the 35 and 39 he collected on the two nines. “If Will and Troy could have putted a little better, their scores could have been lower.”

As is, the Wildcats 225 strokes were 12 better than runners-up Grand Junction and Pine Creek.

LeFebre said the Tigers’ second-place finish was the best of the season for his young team, which has just one senior.

The three Grand Valley schools in the nine-team regional fared well, considering the other six schools were from the Colorado Springs area and were playing a local course.

“The Western Slope, I think we did ourselves proud today,” Fox said.

Fruita Monument’s regional title is its first since 2006 and second since 2000, according to Fox, who quipped, “I guess we’re on the six-year plan.”


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