GJ’s Olkowski finishes third at 5A state golf tourney
Canon Olkowski had a roller-coster of a second round Tuesday at the Class 5A state golf championship.
Playing at Aurora’s Common Grounds Golf Club, the Grand Junction junior was hanging right with the leaders. After an eagle on No. 11, he was within one shot of the lead.
That’s when the experience of Eaglecrest senior Davis Bryant took over down the stretch. Bryant claimed the individual title with a 3-under-par 139. He finished with a bogey-free 69.
Fossil Ridge’s Dillon Stewart was second at 141. Olkowski finished third at even par 142, shooting 70-72.
As a team, Grand Junction finished in a tie for third with Arapahoe, eight strokes behind Regis, which won the team title with a 442.
Grand Junction coach Tom LeFebre said it might be the second-best team finish ever for the Tigers.
“I’m so proud of these guys and how they’ve played all year, but today, to finish third in 5A, that’s a huge accomplishment,” he said.
As for Olkowski’s performance, LeFebre said it was a solid day for the three-time state qualifier.
“He played well and put himself in position to win, but he’s been our No. 1 guy all year,” LeFebre said. “He did what Canon does.”
With the top three golfers playing in the final group, the tournament was settled over the final six holes, which LeFebre said were “very challenging and very long.”
After carding 10 straight pars, Bryant, the 2016 state runner-up, had two birdies and ended with another six pars to hang on.
On a day when the weather was much better after a cold and wet opening day, Bryant kept saving pars, which contrasted with Olkowski’s up-and-down round.
“I’m not too disappointed. I played pretty solid, but I did want to win,” Olkowski said.
He finished with seven bogeys and four birdies to go with the one eagle to finish at 1-over on the day.
When Olkowski got to 2-under heading to No. 12, he was one shot behind Bryant. Olkowski bogeyed 12, then got the stroke back with a birdie on 13.
Olkowski’s shot at the first Grand Junction individual title since 1987 (Monte Montgomery) crumbled with bogeys on 15, 16 and 17.
He birdied 18 to secure third place.
“It really brought me back into it,” Olkowski said about his eagle on No. 11. “I just had a couple of bad swings. I didn’t really have bad bogeys, just a couple of bad swings. That’s golf.”
Olkowski said he got a little advice from big brother Trevor, who is now on the University of Colorado golf team.
“He said to make sure my tempo is good every time,” Canon said.
Last year, Canon finished 13th at state.
LeFebre gave credit to the other two golfers — a pair of seniors — who scored for the Tigers.
Grand Junction senior Blake Schneiter placed 23rd shooting 76-75 for a 151. Isaiah Mallory finished at 161 and shot a 77 on Tuesday.
LeFebre said Mallory’s tournament helped propel the team into third.
“Blake was steady, as he has been all year, but for Isaiah to play as well as he did, it was absolutely the difference of going from fifth to third,” LeFebre said. “It was his best tournament score all year.”
Fruita Monument’s Blake Andersen, who had to win a three-hole playoff to qualify for state, had a good second day, shooting a 2-over 73 to finish at 149 to tie for 15th. He shot 76 on Day 1.
The junior has now qualified for state every season for the Wildcats.
Montrose wins team title
In Class 4A, Montrose took care of some unfinished business after finishing second as a team last year.
Indians coach Dave Woodruff said they were looking for the top spot this year.
“It’s really satisfying but we had three of the four kids back this year,” he said. “There are no guarantees, but the kids have played really really well all season long. It was pretty cool.”
The Indians’ top three golfers played solidly over the two days at the Raccoon Creek Golf Course in Littleton and cruised to a six-shot win over Evergreen.
The Indians finished at 466 with Evergreen at 472 and Valor Christian third at 475.
Montrose and Evergreen have been two of the best teams in 4A all season. They faced off at regionals in Montrose and the Indians won by one stroke.
The Raccoon Creek course was tough on the golfers, with Darren Edwards of Thompson Valley taking the individual title at 2-over 146.
Montrose has never had a boys individual state champion, and sophomore Micah Stangebye came in as one of the top players in the classification but he struggled.
He shot 76-76, which was still good enough to tie for fourth along with Rifle’s Jacob Smith.
Montrose’s Jordan Jennings was one stroke back in a tie for seventh at 153.
The Indians’ third golfer was Dawson Hussong in 20th at 161.
Woodruff said Stangebye had a tough stretch in the middle of the second round that kept him from making a move.
“What’s nice, with him being a sophomore, he will have some more shots at that state title, but we’ve got some guys who will be pushing him next year,” Woodruff said.