Keltz, Walters seek grand finales
Montrose, Central, Grand Junction all send teams to state tournament
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.