Central conquers course, wins 5A regional

During a season that provided its challenges and frustrations, the Central High School girls golf team faced one more Monday: An unfamiliar course with brown, aerated fairways and greens that had their share of brown, too.

The Warriors’ scores weren’t pretty as a result of the Colorado Springs Country Club’s conditions, but no team managed them better as Central claimed a Class 5A Colorado Springs regional championship and the state tournament berth that accompanies it.

And upon returning home, the Warriors will stay home because the state tourney will be played at Tiara Rado Golf Course on May 20-21.

“The girls pulled it out,” Central coach Case Doss said. “The conditions were tough. The course had a lot of winter kill, and they’d punched holes in the fairways, lots of dirt and grass on the course. ... They were the largest aerating holes I’d ever seen. It was definitely a challenge.”

Warriors senior Jordan Eller led the way, firing an 87 and placing fourth, as Central put three players in the top nine. Junior Samantha Medina placed fifth with a 90, and senior Kiana Garcia’s 98 was good for ninth, giving the Warriors a team score of 275 strokes, four better than runner-up Doherty, the host school.

Even better news — or as Doss put it, “The cool thing” — was Central’s fourth player, junior Taylor Head, scored low enough to meet the CHSAA parameters for qualifying all four team members for state. Her 106 needed to be within 10 strokes of the highest score to qualify individually to state, and she was within six.

Doss praised Eller for the mental toughness she displayed right off the bat Monday. She started on No. 18 — “The hardest hole on the course, by far,” Doss said — and after a good drive she got in trouble with a second shot into some trees and a third shot into a bunker. She walked away from the 18th green with an eight.

“After that she goes lights out,” Doss said, adding Eller followed it with two pars and a birdie. “She got settled down and said, ‘OK, time to play.’ “

Eller said she just needed to play smart after the rough first hole, adding, “I know I could have had a big mental breakdown there.”

She looked at the second hole as starting fresh and literally put the start out of her mind.

“I didn’t even remember I got an eight until we went over our cards (at the end),” she said.

Eller said the entire team exhibited mental toughness.

“We just pushed through, played through, played smart,” she said. “We just managed the course.”

Grand Junction High will send two players to state. Regional runner-up Maya Freismuth shot an 85, three strokes off the pace of medalist Mary Kate Nelson of Pine Creek. And the Tigers’ Ryann Tufly tied for 10th with a 100, good for one of the state berths that went to the top eight individuals in addition to the winning team.

Grand Junction’s Shafer Rubalcaba also won a three-person playoff to earn the first-alternate designation. She shot a 101.

Baseball

Delta concluded its regular season with a 12-1 win over Eagle Valley in 4A Western Slope League baseball Monday. The Panthers (16-3, 12-2) scored five runs in the third inning and five more in the fifth to win in five innings by the 10-run rule.

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