Area golfers ready for state
State Golf Championships
Murphy Creek Golf Course, Aurora
Donny Kinnaman, jr., Grand Junction
Three-time state qualifier, placed fourth at state last year. Had strong season, winning several tournaments and shooting a low round of 68. He has a complete game, but his ball striking stands out, and he can shape shots. He also plays smart, gives himself many birdie opportunities.
Trevor Olkowski, fr., Grand Junction
Played well all year and broke through at end of season with two wins, including the Southwestern League championship, winning a two-hole playoff. Like Kinnaman, consistent ball striking stands out. Tigers coach Tom LeFebre said his maturity for a freshman is exceptional. Shot a low round of 71.
Greg Gibson, jr., Grand Junction
Second time qualifying for state. His 78 at regional tied Olkowski for seventh place and was key for Grand Junction qualifying as a team, beating Loveland by three strokes for second place. He was 8 over through 11 holes and shot 2 under for the final seven holes. That also was his low round of the season. He considers his putting to be the strongest part of his game.
Ben Volkmann, jr., Grand Junction
The Tigers’ No. 4 player is making his first trip to state. Usually shoots mid-80s, but he broke 80 for the first time this season, and shot a 74 when he did it. Strength is chipping, and he said the area where he needs to improve is putting.
Troy Dangler, soph., Fruita Monument
Second time at state. He’s a golf junkie and a perfectionist with a complete game. “He has a passion for golf you rarely see,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said. Plays in a lot of Front Range tournaments in the spring and summer, which gives him confidence he can compete with the Front Range players at state. Had a good follow-up season to his fantastic freshman year. Low round was 69. Stroke average was 75.4.
Brandon Speer, jr., Fruita Monument
First-time state qualifier. Made great strides in the offseason, leading Fox to say, “If you’d looked at him at the end of his sophomore year, you never would have guessed he’d be where he’s at now.” Speer had a good summer but an awful start to the high school season. About midseason he started getting his game going again. Low round was 79, twice. Stroke average was 84.2. Shot 82 at regional, tying for 14th, to qualify for state. He hits the ball “relatively straight,” Fox said, adding, “His biggest asset is he’s a really good putter.”
Hiwan Golf Cub, Evergreen
Skyler Miller, sr., Palisade
Good all-around player is making his second state trip. Palisade coach Jan Norell said he’s hitting his driver “really, really well right now.” He’s matured and gotten stronger. Holes that a couple of years ago required a driver, then a 3-wood to get to the green are now attained with a driver-wedge combination. Stays composed, as Norell said, “Watching him play, you’ll never know if he’s 3 under or 3 over.” Consistently shot in the mid to upper 70s. Shot 78 at the regional.
Riley Willis, sr., Montrose
Two-time state qualifier. Montrose coach Angelo DeJulio describes him as immensely talented and says, “He has a beautiful golf swing.” He’s matured and stays more composed during rounds when things aren’t going as well as he’d like, “and he made a lot of saves because of that,” DeJulio said. Low round was a 71. Didn’t win any tournaments, but was in top three several times. Scoring average is 76.
Zane Sauer, sr., Montrose
Qualified for state for first time. He was struggling at the end of the season, and that was the case at the regional, too, but he got enough going right to shoot an 80 and make the state cut. “At the regional, he hung in there,” DeJulio said. “I’m proud of him. He made some putts, showed some fire. I loved that.” Another player with a beautiful swing, DeJulio said. Low round of the season was a 76. Scoring average is 79.
Ty Caron, sr., Rifle
Second time playing at state. Emerged from a four-player playoff for one of the final two qualifying spots from the 4A Western Regional. Bears coach Jordan Smith says Caron always has been a great ball striker and “has a lot of natural ability.” Smith added, “He’s a guy where you say, ‘He gets it.’ He’s a confident kid. He believes he can compete with anyone. That’s something you can’t coach.” Low round this season was 73. Scoring average was 76.
Cody Capwell, sr., Rifle
Senior year was his first as a varsity regular. Smith said Capwell is a patient person who waited his turn to play for the Bears and was rewarded for it. “Last year he was really consistent in the 80s, came close to breaking into the 70s. This summer, something clicked,” Smith said. “He played a lot of golf and broke into the 70s several times.” When Smith calls him a naturally good ball striker, he adds, “He’s probably the best I’ve coached.” His short game is what makes or breaks him. Low round was 74. Scoring average was about 80.
Blake Reiher, fr., Delta
Won a four-player playoff for the final two qualifying spots from the 4A Western Regional. One of the players he beat out was his brother, Keaton, a senior. He’s only 5-foot-4 and isn’t a big hitter, but he hits straight and plays from the fairway. “He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Delta coach Marty Rover said. “He’s just consistent. Hits it in the middle (of the fairway), and if he putts well, he’ll score.” His 81 at the regional was his low score of the season, and Rover said the competitor in Reiher emerged in the playoff. “He handled it great,” Rover said.
Pueblo Country Club
Jacob Robb, jr., Cedaredge
Qualified for state for the first time. His scoring average was 81, 10 strokes better than his sophomore season. He also grew six inches in the past year and now stands 6-1 and is a much longer hitter. Improved his chipping and putting. He consistently shot 78 to 82 all season, according to Cedaredge coach Larry Murphy. Battled back to shoot an 80 at the 3A Western Regional. His round started on the back nine, and he shot a 44, then bogeyed two of the first three holes on the front nine to go 10 over. He was 2 under on the final six holes.
— Tim Harty