Monday was an exciting day for the Grand Junction High School boys golf team.
The Tigers had the lofty goal of placing in the top two in their region, which would qualify Grand Junction’s four-player team for the Class 5A state tournament.
The Tigers placed second with a team score of 221, just behind Heritage’s winning score of 218. The top three golfers for each team make up the team score.
Canon Olkowski shot a 1-under-par 70 to tie for first place in the Southern Regional at the Colorado Springs Country Club.
This was the first time Olkowski, a junior, has been part of a team that qualified for state. He qualified as an individual last year and placed 12th.
“It’s really cool, I’m really proud of the team,” he said. “We’re pumped for state.”
Blake Schneiter, one of two seniors on the team, tied for fourth after shooting a 2-over 73.
“It’s really exciting, especially having two seniors on the team. We wanted to make it as a team,” he said. “That was one of our big goals this season, to make it to state as a team.”
The other two Grand Junction players are freshman Carson Kerr, who shot a 78 to place 15th, and senior Isaiah Mallory, who shot an 83.
Schneiter, who just missed qualifying for state last year, said regionals was a little bit easier as a senior.
“There’s a little bit of pressure to shoot good to try and help the team, knowing if you shoot close to par, it’s going to help,” he said.
Olkowski had a steady round but bogeyed No. 17 and had to come back with a birdie on No. 18 to pull into a tie for first with Sam Blackwood of Heritage.
“I putted really well, made a lot of good putts, and I hit it pretty well too,” Olkowski said.
Fruita Monument qualifies THREE
It was a nerve-wracking day on the links for Blake Andersen.
The Fruita Monument junior was hoping to make his third consecutive trip to the 5A state tournament, but he didn’t have one of his better days and finished with an 11-over 83.
That left him in a three-way tie for 20th place and the final individual state-qualifying spot.
He didn’t waste the opportunity. In the pressure-packed playoff, Andersen birdied the fourth playoff hole at Plum Creek Golf Club in Castle Rock to earn that final state spot.
“He got a second chance today and he took advantage of it,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said.
The qualifying format for all classifications is that the top 13 golfers not on one of the top two teams will qualify for state.
Another Fruita golfer also took advantage of his second chance, but it took an entire year to do it.
Last year, Sean Kennedy was denied a spot at state when he lost in a playoff for that final individual spot.
This year, the junior shot a solid 6-over 78 to place 12th and safely make the 5A state field.
So did Zack Nehm, also a junior, who shot an 81 to tie for 15th.
Fruita Monument finished fourth in the Central Region at 242. Fossil Ridge won the region at 221, followed by Rock Canyon at 222.
This is the second consecutive year Fruita has qualified three golfers for state, but Andersen is the only returner from last season to qualify.
Central played in the Northern Region but didn’t have a state qualifier.
Jorge Bolanos was the Warriors’ best finisher, placing 31st.
The 5A state tournament will be held Oct. 2-3 at Common Grounds Golf Club in Aurora.
The Class 4A Region 4 Regional featured two of the best golf teams in the classification.
It couldn’t get much closer when it was over, with Montrose holding on for a one-stroke victory over Evergreen.
Playing on Montrose’s Bridges at Black Canyon Golf Course, the Indians won the region with a 3-over par 216, with Evergreen second at 217.
The two teams took the top four individual spots.
Micah Stangebye of Montrose and Evergreen’s Bridger Tenney tied for first at an even-par 71.
Montrose’s Dawson Hussong was alone in third at 72, followed by his teammate Jordan Jennings in a tie for fourth at 73 with Evergreen’s Nolan Miller and Xan Anderson.
Montrose’s fourth golfer, Ryan Lords, placed 11th at 75.
Last year at state, Montrose finished second as a team behind Discovery Canyon and Evergreen was fifth.
Stangebye, Hussong and Lords were all part of last year’s state qualifying team
Rifle’s Jacob Smith qualified for state for a second straight year, shooting 74 to tie for seventh. His teammate, Wolfgang Smith, also qualified with an 84, placing 20th.
Palisade’s Alfonso Rivera just missed qualifying after shooting an 85 to place 22nd.
The 4A state tournament is Oct. 2-3 in Littleton on the Raccoon Creek Golf Course.
Two teams from the Roaring Fork Valley claimed the top two spots in the Class 3A Region 4 Regional at Devils Thumb Golf Course in Delta.
Aspen was a runaway winner after shooting a 6-under 210. Basalt was second at 232.
Aspen’s Carter Hall led four Skiers, who all shot under par with a 3-under 69 to win the region. Dawson Holmes was second with a 70.
Basalt’s best finishers were Blake Exelbert and Holden Kleager with 76s.
Delta’s KC Carlson placed fifth at 1-over 73 to earn a spot at the 3A state tournament, which will be at the Indian Peaks Golf Course in Lafayette in two weeks.
Cedaredge qualified three for state. Jacob Lewis was 14th with a 79, Peter Carlson placed 16th with an 81, and Duncan Campbell was the final qualifier after shooting an 84 to tie for 20th.