Peterson, Cherry lead way on links for Indians
All of the girls golf players except two had left The Bridges in Montrose at the conclusion of a mid-April high school tournament, making them the only people around who could answer Jim Scarry’s question:
“Would you two do me a favor?”
“Sure,” was their response.
Scarry then asked them to move five carts, which had been used by coaches and were parked on the cart path near the clubhouse, to the place where The Bridges prefers them to be parked after a round.
Montrose High School seniors Chelsea Peterson and Jordan Cherry then dutifully walked to the carts to help out their coach. At that moment, Scarry proudly said, “That’s why you coach, two girls like that.”
Earlier that day Peterson and Cherry demonstrated another really good reason why Scarry coaches the Indians. They led the way as the Indians won an 18-hole invitational that doubled as the second day of the Southwestern League Championships, which Montrose also won.
For that matter, they led the way in tournament after tournament for the Indians this spring, exemplifying what Scarry hopes his program has become: one that develops young players who emerge as juniors and star as seniors.
He has his poster children in Cherry and Peterson, who will lead Montrose into the Class 4A Girls Golf State Championships tournament, which begins today at the County Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs and concludes Tuesday.
This marks the fourth year in a row Montrose has had a team in the 4A state field, and Peterson and Cherry were on last year’s squad that finished third in the state. That team, however, was led by seniors Kala Keltz and Madison Gill, and Keltz was last year’s 4A individual state champion.
This year, the team was Peterson’s and Cherry’s to lead, and they took their responsibility seriously. They played golf in the summer, working to take their games to another level. Mission accomplished.
“They worked to get to this point,” Scarry said. “They weren’t great golfers in the ninth and 10th grade. They just worked so hard.”
After the Indians won their regional to qualify the entire team to state, Scarry got emotional when he talked about Peterson and Cherry and what they’ve accomplished.
He started to say something, then stopped and turned away to compose himself. When he was ready to talk again, he said, “First and foremost, they’re just special, special, young ladies.”
Scarry had to take another break to compose himself again, and as he did that, he said, “This isn’t supposed to happen until the (postseason) banquet.”
He then spoke about how nothing is guaranteed in golf, especially at a one-day regional. Good teams and good individuals who have an off day miss out on state berths.
So, Cherry and Peterson’s performance at the regional was one more testament to their skill and leadership, and Scarry said it’s rewarding as a coach “when they do it on the big stage and get what they deserve. These girls worked for it and earned it, and I’m thrilled for them.”
That applies to juniors Mikayla McKie and Brooke Brennecke, too, as they round out the Montrose quartet that will compete at state.
Scarry said the team’s approach at state is twofold. One, the Indians are in Colorado Springs to compete and do the best they can. Two, the state tournament is a reward, and Scarry reminds his girls to enjoy it.
“We really want to enjoy the experience,” he said. “At the same time, we’re here to compete. We want to shoot good numbers and see where we stack up.”
What he won’t say is anything about expecting to win a state title. Scarry said he has no idea how good the other teams are, and a goal of a state title may not be realistic. A goal of playing well, however, is always fair, and they’ll start with that today.
His best advice to his players will be to play smart.
“If you’re in trouble, get out of trouble and play the hole from there,” Scarry said. “Bogeys at state are a good thing. Then, sneak in a few pars, and you’ve shot 84, and that’s a good score.”
Regardless of what happens at state, he said he’s proud of what his players have accomplished, just like the three teams at state before this one.
But he added, “In some ways I’m more proud this year because it was a changing of the guard, so to speak. At the beginning of the year, we weren’t sure how good we could be. We thought we could be pretty good.”
Now, he knows they are.
Must conquer the nerves
In her third year at state, Cherry is hoping to take another step up. She finished 40th as a sophomore and 27th as a junior.
Experience helps, she said, adding the key to playing well is handling her nerves.
“It’s getting used to that side of it,” she said. “Otherwise, it’s just another round of golf.”
If she plays well, Cherry said she thinks she can crack the top 10 individually.
Seeking fun final tourney
Peterson also spoke of the need to handle her nerves at state.
“I had a ton of nerves last year,” she said. “Just going up to the tee box, I had butterflies, my hands got shaky. (On the first hole) they announce your name, and everyone’s watching.”
Those nerves led Peterson to shoot a 100 on the first day. But she settled down the next day to shot an 86 and finished 43rd in the field of 84 golfers.
Peterson is keeping her state goal this year simple: Have fun.
“It’s my last tournament probably ever,” she said. “I’m looking at it more as a fun tournament. Don’t worry. No pressure. Just go out and play your game.”
Scarry said Peterson’s greatest strength on the golf course is her competitive nature, which is why he wasn’t surprised when she bounced back on the second day at state last year.
“That’s Chelsea,” he said. “She’s our competitor.”
Bringing better game to state
Rifle senior Alyx Carter joins Cherry as a three-time qualifier at 4A state, and she will try to improve upon last year’s 177, which she got by firing rounds of 88 and 89. That put her in a tie for 28th.
Carter believes she can take a step up because she knows she’s a better player this year.
“Everything’s just more accurate,” she said. “Better ball flight. Better feel on the greens.”
Rifle coach Britt Choate said she notices Carter’s improvement most on her drives.
“She’s improved so much (off the tee) from last year,” Choate said. “It puts her in all of the right spots.”
Another strength, according to Choate, is Carter’s focus when she’s playing.
“She’s so good at staying in her bubble, her mental game,” Choate said. “When she’s on the course, it’s just her and the course. Nothing bothers her.”
Brother’s putter spurs surge
Fruita Monument’s Megan Volkmann earned her first trip to state in her last chance to do it.
The senior cut it fine, too, needing to win a second playoff hole at the regional to earn the region’s final individual state berth.
Volkmann came a long way over the course of the season, according to Wildcats coach T.J. Cox. He said she was about the 11th best golfer on the team at the start of the season. She ended it by joining junior teammate Katie Rice with a trip to state.
“I’m pretty competitive,” she said. “I just thought if I’m going to play, I might as well try my hardest and put in the work.”
Cox said one of the big improvements Volkmann made was in her putting after she changed putters in the middle of the season.
“She went to her brother’s putter and never gave it back,” he said.
Volkmann acknowledged her brother, Rohan, a member of the Fruita junior varsity boys golf team last fall, has been without his Odyssey White Hot putter.
“My putter sucked,” she said. “I talked to my dad, and he said, ‘Well just take his.’ ”