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Grand Junction's Carson Kerr will play in his third straight Class 5A state tournament beginning Monday in Denver. The Tigers' junior will be joined by Fruita's Josh Stouder and Kade Hayward. At the Class 4A state tournament in Montrose, Palisade's Logan Woll and Ethan Aubert, and Central's Zach Wilson will all be competing. McKENZIE LANGE/ The Daily Sentinel

Carson Kerr's prep golf trajectory has been climbing since he first stepped onto the Grand Junction High School campus.

Monday, the junior heads to Maxwell Course at Pinehurst Country Club in Denver top play in his third straight Class 5A state tournament.

With wins and top-5 finishes aplenty throughout this season, Kerr has plenty of reasons to expect his best performance on the state stage yet.

"I've improved every year," Kerr said. "I didn't play so well my freshman year and I took 10th last year as a sophomore."

His objective is to finish on top this time around, but he knows how difficult the competition can be.

In addition to trying to better the top Front Range golfers, Kerr will also have some Western Slope competition in Fruita Monument's Josh Stouder and Kade Hayward.

"The goal is always to win, but I'd like to take top 10 or even top 5," Kerr said. "The main goal is to win for me, though."

Kerr's dedication to golf has led to a sustainable after-school job. He works at Bookcliff Country Club, where he also practices.

"I like meeting new people," Kerr said. "I've been working in the golf business for 4-5 years. It's always been fun. I've always enjoyed it."

Another Bookcliff employee who will play in the state tournament is Central junior Zach Wilson. He'll represent the Warriors in the 4A tournament at The Bridges in Montrose.

Unlike Kerr, this is Wilson's first time at state.

"I'm just going to try as hard as I can and not worry about where I finish," he said. "Now that I've made it to state, I'll play my heart out."

Wilson worked on his game during the summer by participating in events run by the ACE Golf Foundation, an organization that provides affordable playing options for Western Slope golfers.

Playing in ACE events gave Wilson an up-close look at some of golfers he will be competing against this week, including a quartet from Montrose High School: Jake Legg, Jordan Jennings, Micah Stangebye and Ryan Lords.

"(The ACE events) gave me more of that tournament feel where you know what it's like to compete against some of these guys before the season started," Wilson said.

Palisade's Ethan Aubert also worked on his game during the summer to make it to the 4A tournament, but his approach was different.

The Bulldogs' senior had a strong junior season, but he couldn't overcome the competition in regional play, meaning he had to stay home.

"I was pretty upset after missing state last year after having multiple low rounds," Aubert said. "I decided to put the extra work in this past summer and it paid off. Working on my mental toughness was crucial as well."

Instead of playing in ACE events, he worked on his game in California. He spent most of his summer in Sacramento working for his uncle. Every day after work, he would play or practice and then go to the gym. On the course, he emphasized improving his short game.

"I just want to end my high school golf career with a bang," Aubert said. "I'm not hoping to win or anything, but if I play how I know I can play those two days, I will be happy."

Fellow Palisade senior Logan Woll will also end his career with his first state berth.

"It was such a great feeling knowing that I will finally be able to do something I've been working on for four years," Woll said. "I just want to go out and have a lot of fun because it's my senior year."

"I'm just going to enjoy myself."

In the Class 3A tournament at Blue Course at Eisenhower Golf Course on the campus of the Air Force Academy, Delta will be represented by Atley Harris, Grant Freed and Ben Cooper.

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