Rifle’s Walters wins 4A Western Region tourney
Three seniors who have been to the state meet multiple times — Rifle’s Taylor Walters, Montrose’s Kala Keltz and Palisade’s Kate Shuman — finished 1-2-3 on Tuesday at the Class 4A Western Region girls golf tournament.
Walters, a four-time state qualifier who finished seventh as a junior, shot her best round ever, carding a two-over-par 74 for the medalist honor at River Valley Ranch Golf Club in Carbondale. Keltz, a four-time state qualifier who finished fifth last year, followed with a 77, and Shuman earned her third straight trip to state by carding an 82 for her career best round and third place.
Keltz also led the charge as Montrose won the team title and the automatic state berth that comes with it. All four of the Indians’ players finished in the top 11 as senior Madison Gill fired an 88 to tie for sixth place, junior Jordan Cherry shot a 94 for 10th, and junior Chelsea Peterson carded a 95 to tie for 11th.
The top 10 individuals not on the regional team champion also made the state cut, and that allowed Rifle’s Alyx Carter to join Walters at state, and Palisade senior Sabrina Barslund will tag along with Shuman. Carter shot an 86 to tie for sixth, and Barslund shot 95 and tied for 11th.
The 4A state meet is May 20-21 at Broken Tee Golf Course in Englewood.
Walters said her approach Tuesday was “just to keep it safe. Don’t hit bunkers, because there’s a lot of them.”
And rather than get greedy and take risks for the sake of birdies, she decided pars would be good enough, and she collected 14 of them.
Walters’ scorecard had one birdie, which she said stemmed from her best shot of the day, her tee shot on the par-3 No. 8 that she placed about a foot from the pin. And she had three bogeys, the final two the result of three-putting for bogey on the back nine’s two par-3 holes. Those were frustrating, she said, because if she had two-putted each for par, she would have shot par for the round.
“Everything kind of came together, but approach shots probably were the best,” Walters said of her game.
Keltz rebounded from a rough start to remind the field how well she can swing a golf club. Montrose coach Jim Scarry said she was 7-over after six holes, then played 2-under the rest of the way.
After Keltz turned in her card, “She literally, and I mean literally, runs to the 17th hole where Madison (Gill) was playing, and she cheers her in the rest of the way,” Scarry said.
Gill was consistent throughout her round, and that led Scarry to add, “Our seniors led us. And in our biggest moments, the seniors came through, and they did it.”
Scarry said Cherry and Peterson felt they could have shot better, but they were encouraged when they saw all of the scores and realized they would have qualified for state regardless of the team’s showing. Their scores also were respectable, their coach said, given they played through two hail storms, including a 30-minute delay during which they had to stay on the course.
Shuman didn’t mind the weather at all. Instead, she left Carbondale thinking, “I really like this course. River Valley Ranch is beautiful.”
Shuman said her drives put her in good position to score Tuesday.
“I feel like I played up to my potential right now,” she said. “I was consistent. I only missed four fairways, and my short game around the green was solid.”
Shuman also is excited to have Barslund join her at state after going solo the first two times.
Palisade coach Jan Norell said this is the first time in nine years the Bulldogs have qualified two girls for the state tournament.
As a senior in her third year of playing competitively, Barslund said the state trip means a lot to her. And she perhaps saved that state berth with a recovery on her final hole. The seven she carded wasn’t pretty, but she said it had the potential to be much worse after she sent her tee shot out of bounds.
The Southwestern League game between Grand Junction and Fruita Monument was canceled Tuesday night because of rain.
As a result, Grand Junction locked up the league’s automatic qualifier to the Class 5A state playoffs, finishing a half-game ahead of Central. If the Tigers had lost to Fruita, Central would have won a tiebreaker over Grand Junction for the automatic qualifier.