Keltz, Walters seek grand finales

Montrose, Central, Grand Junction all send teams to state tournament

WILLIAM WOODY/Special to The Daily Sentinel Central High School’s Jordan Eller will be among those competing at Tiara Rado Golf Course in the Class 5A state tournament.

WILLIAM WOODY/Special to The Daily Sentinel Montrose High School senior Kala Keltz will compete in the Class 4A girls golf state tournament at Broken Tee Golf Course in Englewood today and Tuesday. Keltz finished in a tie for fifth at 152 last year.


State girls golf tees off

The CHSAA Girls Golf State Championships begin today and conclude Tuesday.

Tiara Rado Golf Course in Grand Junction will host the Class 5A meet, and Broken Tee Golf Course in Englewood hosts Class 4A. Each tourney has 84 qualifiers.

The following area players will be competing:

Class 5A

Jordan Eller, Central, sr.

First time qualifying for state. Her short game has come on this year and become the best part of her game, Central coach Casey Doss said. “If she’s straight off the tee, she’s going to have a good day,” he said. Her best golf trait, though, is her mental toughness, Doss said, adding, “She doesn’t get flustered.” Her low round this year is an 82.

Samantha Medina, Central, jr.

First time qualifying for state. This big hitter’s game is evolving, Doss said. Her skills are raw, but there’s serious talent there, Doss said, adding, “I feel she could be a top 10 or 15 player in the state next year if she wants to be.” She hits her drives 250 to 270 yards “when she’s killing it off the tee,” Doss said. She owns a low round of 85.

Kiana Garcia, Central, sr.

First time qualifying for state. A relative newcomer to golf, Garcia joined the team as a sophomore. She’s a softball player, and Doss describes her as “super strong, very athletic,” and “she’s a battler, very competitive.” She’s the best putter for Central, “which really saves her a lot of strokes,” Doss said. “She’s good at bump run. ... If she’s straight off the tee, she’s going to score.” Her low round this year is 87.

Taylor Head, Central, jr.

First time qualifying for state. Doss said he talked Head into coming out for golf as a freshman, and “she’s gotten better and better and is starting to figure the game out.” He said Head is big and powerful, and “she can hit it a freakin’ mile. She just hammers it. She’s tall, about 5-10 or 5-11, and she has those long levers.” Her low round this year is 92.

Maya Freismuth, Grand Junction, sr.

First time qualifying for state. Things started to click for the four-year varsity starter this season, and having the 5A state meet at Tiara Rado ought to help her. She fired the low round of her career there earlier this season, an 80. Her length off the tee is average, but she’s usually in the middle of the fairway, Tigers coach Clay Tufly said, “Her short game has come along a lot, and she’s getting up and down and not wasting opportunities when she gets on the green,” he said.

Ryann Tufly, Grand Junction, soph.

First time qualifying for state. Her low round was a 93 in Cortez recently, and she did it despite a lot of wind. “And that’s when she started coming on,” said Clay Tufly, her father and coach. She has been working on her short game, and as it improves, so do her scores. Accuracy with her drives and long irons are her strengths, Clay Tufly said.

Shafer Rubalcaba, Grand Junction, jr.

First time qualifying for state. Rubalcaba is foremost an athlete and a competitor, according to Clay Tufly. She was a starter in softball and basketball for the Tigers. She’s not a long hitter, but she has a good short game. Moreover, Tufly said, “She’s a smart player. She thinks through her shots.” Her low round this season is a 93.

Class 4A

Kala Keltz, Montrose, sr.

Four-time state qualifier. Tied for fifth at state last year with a 152, tied for 17th (168) as a sophomore, and tied for 10th (162) as a freshman. A gifted athlete with a complete game, Keltz complements it with her competitive nature. “She never shies away from competition,” Montrose coach Jim Scarry said. “When a situation is toughest, she’s toughest. ...  She will not back down.” Another strength, according to Scarry: “Her ability to save pars, get up and down around the greens. ... And she’s always been a fantastic putter.”

Madison Gill, Montrose, sr.

Three-time state qualifier. Tied for 60th at state last year with a 191 and tied for 64th (197) as a sophomore. Gill’s low round this year is a 78, and her strengths, Scarry said, are accuracy and consistency. “She doesn’t have those triples and quads on her scorecard,” Scarry said. “She’s not flamboyant, doesn’t get a lot of birdies, but she rarely gets in trouble and avoids the big numbers.”

Jordan Cherry, Montrose, jr.

Two-time state qualifier. Tied for 40th last year at state with a 181. Nerves didn’t get to Cherry at state last year, as she was the Indians’ No. 4 player but carded the team’s second-best score. “She’s mentally tough,” Scarry said. “You never know by looking at her if she’s having a good round, bad round or average round. ... She’s also a tough competitor. She has that will and drive to do well. ... If she’s struggling, she holds it together and still shoots low 90s.”

Chelsea Peterson, Montrose, jr.

First time qualifying for state. She can crack 80 and owns a low round of 78 this year. Peterson is a powerful hitter whose next step is to achieve consistency. “She can hit it a long way,” Scarry said, adding she also has good touch around the greens. When her irons are on, she’ll card a low score.

Kate Shuman, Palisade, sr.

Three-time state qualifier. Shot 189 and tied for 56th at state last year. Shot her career-low round, 82, to finish third at regional. Consistency is the name of her game, according to Palisade coach Jan Norell. Shuman plays from the fairway and has a good short game. She tends to play conservatively, but Norell said Shuman has gotten better this year at attacking greens, putting herself in position more often to get birdies.

Sabrina Barslund, Palisade, sr.

First time qualifying for state. Long hitter with all of her clubs, but it’s most evident off the tee. “She hits 250-yard-plus with her driver pretty consistently,” Norell said. Barslund didn’t start playing high school golf until her sophomore year. Her short game needs work, but once on the green, she’s a good putter. Norell thinks a college team will reap the rewards if it gives her a chance to develop.

Taylor Walters, Rifle, sr.

Four-time state qualifier. Placed seventh at state last year with a 153 on rounds of 77 and 76. Shot 176 and tied for 30th as a sophomore. Won regional this year with career-low round of 74. She has a complete game, and Rifle coach Britt Choate said, “It’s all just so good right now.” Off the tee, Walters is long and straight, and Choate added, “She’s hitting farther off the tee than she has all year — just little bullets, straight.”

Alyx Carter, Rifle, jr.

Two-time state qualifier. Shot 182 and tied for 44th place at state last year. Her strengths are tee shots, approach shots and determination, Choate said. Carter has been working on her short game, “and it’s coming around a bit,” Choate said. Carter’s career-low round is 81, but she’s ready to break 80, Choate said. Eliminating three-putts will take her to the next level.

Rifle senior Taylor Walters has been at her ball-striking best down the stretch of her final high school season.

Her 74 at River Valley Ranch Golf Club earlier this month was the lowest round of her career and netted her a regional championship, and she hopes more is in store.

Following that victory two weeks ago, she said, “I don’t want to reach my full potential yet. I want to save some for state.”

Walters will play in her fourth Class 4A Girls Golf State Tournament today and Tuesday at Broken Tee Golf Course in Englewood, and she would like to improve upon last year’s seventh-place finish. She fired rounds of 77 and 76 to card a 153, 10 strokes off the winning pace.

Her coach, Britt Choate, said Walters is primed for this moment.

“She’s hitting the ball the best she has all season,” Choate said. “She’s definitely ready.”

Where Walters has improved the most this year is in course management and mental focus.

“Her mental game really kicked into gear this year,” Choate said. “She plays golf only worrying about herself. She’s in the moment, thinking about her game shot by shot, hole by hole, and she’s just going to let it happen.”

Meanwhile, Montrose senior Kala Keltz also has eyes on a fantastic finish to a great high school career, and she gets to do it accompanied by a full team.

A four-time state qualifier and two-time all-state performer, Keltz will try to improve upon last year’s tie for fifth place at state, a stroke ahead of Walters.

State, according to Montrose coach Jim Scarry, is the perfect place for the competitive Keltz.

“I will never doubt or question Kala’s ability to go out there and compete,” he said. “I know Kala is going out there to win it. The dream is always to win it.”

Indians OK with underdog role

Keltz also will be driven to deliver for her teammates, as Scarry recalled Keltz’s freshman year at state and what she told him after the meet concluded: “I’m not coming back here alone again.”

Indeed, Montrose qualified its team to state three years in a row. This year, Keltz is joined by fellow senior Madison Gill and juniors Jordan Cherry and Chelsea Peterson.

Scarry said he brings no team expectations to state, learning in previous tourneys that self-imposed pressure is a recipe for disaster. Instead, it’s best to play, have fun and accept whatever result that nets.

A strong showing this year, after placing fifth as a team last year, won’t surprise him, though. Scarry said Montrose has four strong players capable of two scores in the 70s and two scores in the 80s.

“That would be everyone at the top of their games, but it’s not anything they haven’t done before,” he said.

Scarry also likes the fact this will be the first tournament of the season the Indians aren’t favored to win, thus no pressure.

“We’ll let Valor (Christian) and a few others be the favorites,” he said. “We can only control what we do.”

5A features 7 local Players

In Class 5A, four Central and three Grand Junction girls will try to take advantage of home cooking on the familiar fairways and greens of Tiara Rado Golf Course.

Central comes off a regional win that automatically qualified the team to state. Grand Junction also will compete as a team because its third scorer at the regional, Shafer Rubalcaba, went from alternate status to playing. Three players are needed to record a team score.

Central coach Casey Doss, like Scarry, isn’t placing any expectations on his players: seniors Jordan Eller and Kiana Garcia and juniors Samantha Medina and Taylor Head. The Warriors’ instruction from their coach is to have fun.

“After our regional performance, this is the cherry on top,” Doss said. “We’re going to go there and enjoy it.”

Doss concedes Central’s team scores this year don’t measure up with most of the squads in the 16-team field, but he wouldn’t mind seeing his quartet benefit from course familiarity to climb into the top half of the team standings.

“Our girls know that course,” Doss said. “They’ve been out there a lot the last two years. The girls love that course.”

And there are pitfalls for the uninitiated, even if they did arrive early to play practice rounds.

“Two days of practice won’t do it for them on that course,” Doss said of the Front Range schools.

Grand Junction coach Clay Tufly is happy his three players get to play for a team score, but the main thing he wants juniors Ryann Tufly and Shafer Rubalcaba to take from the meet is experience.

As for his senior qualifier, Maya Freismuth, he’d like to see her enjoy her final high school tournament and perhaps take another step up in a season filled with improvement.

Freismuth took second at the regional, shooting an 85 in the rain and hail. She also shot the lowest round this year of any Grand Valley player. It was an 80. And she did it at Tiara Rado.


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