Rifle edges Fruita by one in Montrose Invitational

The missed opportunities of the day before in Montrose were seized opportunities Thursday for the Rifle High School boys golf team upon its return to town.

Rifle placed three players in the top six as the Bears won the 15-team Montrose Invitational at Black Canyon Golf Club, touring the course in 219 strokes to edge Fruita Monument High School by one stroke.

The tournament was the fourth in four days and fifth in eight days for Rifle, and Bears coach Jordan Smith said it was a matter of things finally coming together on the same day for his players. Four of the five Bears shot 76 or better, led by runner-up Triston Quigley’s 71.

“That was huge for us. That’s definitely the best we’ve shot in a while,” Smith said. “That’s kind of what we’ve been looking for all season, having a couple of guys get hot at the same time.”

Smith thought that might happen Wednesday at The Bridges Golf & Country Club, but Rifle’s 237 were 10 off Fruita’s winning pace and good for fourth place.

“At The Bridges, we played well but missed a few opportunities,” Smith said. “Fruita’s a really good team. They’re off to a fast start.”

So, it was satisfying at the meet’s end to beat the Wildcats by one, but first it was nerve-racking because Fruita’s team scores were the last to be posted.

“I thought our 220 was a good score,” Fruita coach Dave Fox said. “Give Rifle credit, compliments to them.”

Smith said Quigley shot 70 at the same tournament last year and set a goal of shooting a 69 this year. The senior was close, foiled by a bogey on his last hole.

“He was bummed,” Smith said.

Ty Caron added a 73, and Smith said of the junior, “He’s really becoming a good player for us.”

Senior Danny Bartels rounded out the Bears’ scoring with a 75, recovering from a rough start and finishing with a flourish, sinking a 20-foot birdie putt to conclude his round.

Meanwhile, Tieg Hauer’s 76 didn’t count toward Rifle’s team score, but Smith said it was the first time Hauer shot in the 70s, closing his day with a birdie, par and birdie.

No individual, though, could rival what Fruita freshman Troy Dangler did Thursday on his way to winning his second large tourney in four tries this year. Dangler fired a 1-under-par 69.

“He’s quite a player, and he showed it today,” Wildcats coach Dave Fox said. “I think he hit only five greens (in regulation), but kept going up and down (for par). I think he had 22 putts.”

Fox also said Grand Junction High School coach Tom LeFebre best summed up Dangler’s showing: “He told me, ‘Today, that kid could get up and down from a trash can.’ ”

That was nearly the case on Dangler’s final hole, which was No. 15 because of the shotgun format. Fox said Dangler was in a tough spot in the rough off the green about five to six feet from being out of bounds, and he chipped up and over, then sank a 12- to 15-foot putt for par.

“He showed how cool and calm he could be,” Fox said.


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