‘Nothing to lose’
Central's Eller takes relaxed approach at state
Jordan Eller didn’t shoot the score she knows she can shoot at Tiara Rado Golf Course, which she has played four times a week for the past couple of months in preparation for this week.
On the other hand, armed with a state-tournament patch and a photo of herself taking a swing, two post-round purchases Monday on the Tiara Rado clubhouse patio, life was good.
“I didn’t get the score I was looking for, but it’s not horrible,” she said, then repeated, “not horrible.”
Eller shot an 89 Monday during the first round of the Class 5A Girls Golf State Championships, putting her in tie for 35th place going into today’s second and final round.
She had the best round of the seven local golfers competing at the 84-player meet, bouncing back from a 47 on the front nine to card a 42 on the back.
Being familiar with the course, Eller knows she tends to shoot higher on the front than the back. She also knows she can do better than that 47, even from the blue tees the girls are playing for state.
“You’re able to make more mistakes on the back (and recover) than you are on the front,” Eller said. “It’s one of those things on this course, you have to play smart. I have to play smarter.
“On the front I’d go par, par, double, double. I’m like, ‘Dude, get your stuff together, for crying out loud.’ “
Eller appeared to get it together on the back nine Monday, and she’d like to get it together for all 18 holes today because this is it for her high school career. And she won’t play competitively in college, although she said she will caddy while attending Arizona State University, where she plans to major in engineering.
“Tomorrow I’m just looking forward to having fun,” Eller said. “I’m just going to go for some of those putts, go for some of those shots. I have nothing to lose.”
Eller has three teammates who will join her in trying to improve upon Monday’s scores. Central junior Samantha Medina shot a 93 and is tied for 46th place, while senior Kiana Garcia carded a 97 and is tied for 53rd, and Taylor Head shot 110, tying for 72nd.
Medina had the best score on the front nine, shooting 7-over, but a rough start on the back nine set her back. She did, however, recover with a strong final few holes.
Warriors coach Casey Doss told Eller she can finish in the top 25 with a strong showing today — she’s only five strokes back from it — and he’s telling his team a better day today could send them leapfrogging from 12th to the top eight of the 16-team field.
“The course was playing pretty tough today,” Doss said. “The rough was the thickest we’ve played in all year. And the greens were quick, as we expected. You need to be in the right spot in order to one- or two-putt.”
Regardless of what happened Monday or what comes today, Eller is enjoying the experience.
“Oh yeah, it’s totally fun. Our group was fun,” said Eller, who was paired with Loveland’s Raquell Castillo and Rock Canyon’s Savni Kulkami. “We had a good time.”
Tigers struggle in first round
Grand Junction High School’s three players mirrored Central with first-round struggles on a familiar course.
Senior Maya Freismuth had the Tigers’ best score, a 94, tied for 49th, but it was far from her best, especially at Tiara Rado, the site of her career-low round, an 80 earlier this season.
She was smiling after Monday’s round, even after she just missed chipping in on No. 18. The near-birdie led her to exclaim making that shot would have made up for a bad day.
“It was a rough day, but that’s why there’s two days,” Freismuth said. “I’m hoping tomorrow will be the day to come back and play better.
“It’s not the worst score in the world, so I have a chance tomorrow to come back and get somewhere in the top 20 maybe.”
Grand Junction junior Shafer Rubalcaba shot a 99, while sophomore Ryann Tufly shot a 110.
The Tigers are in 13th place with a team score of 300.
Ringsby takes Day 1 lead
Ten players cracked 80 in the first round, led by Cherry Creek’s Calli Ringsby, who sits alone in first with a 73 and a two-stroke lead going into today.
Three players are tied for second at 75: Arapahoe’s Claudia Davis; Highlands Ranch’s Jenni Chun; and Rock Canyon’s Michelle Romano.
Ringsby tied for fourth at state last year, while Davis was 10th, Romano 32nd and Chun 42nd.
Last year’s champion, Cherry Creek’s Mackenzie Cohen, is tied for 20th with an 82. Last year’s third-place finisher, Hannah Wood of Arapahoe, is tied for 11th with an 80.
Defending team champ leads
The team title looks like a three-team race entering today. Defending champion Cherry Creek leads with a 236, while last year’s runner-up, Arapahoe, is second at 239.
Regis Jesuit, which moved up to 5A this year after winning the 4A title last year, is third at 245. Legacy is fourth at 255.