Two tough days at two different golf courses in Durango showed some of the best high school golf talent in the region and left the host Demons plenty to work on before next week’s regional tournament.
Teams competed Monday and Tuesday in Durango’s two-day golf tournament. Scores did not carry over from Monday’s round into Tuesday’s as each venue’s 18 holes played as separate events.
Durango High School finished Monday’s round at Hillcrest Golf Club in sixth place as a team with a score of 35-over-par. The tournament at Hillcrest was won by Piedra Vista of Farmington. The Panthers shot 6-over as a team to easily defeat second-place Grand Junction (17-over). Piedra Vista was paced by the even-par round from Trey Diehl on Monday, and his brother Tyler Diehl shot 1-over 72. River Smalley rounded out the team scoring with a 5-over 76.
The Diehl brothers again were in the mix Tuesday at Dalton Ranch Golf Club, but Trey couldn’t repeat his medalist form from Monday. He shot a 7-over 79, while Tyler shot even-par 72.
Tuesday’s tournament at Dalton Ranch was won by Grand Junction’s Canon Olkowski, who shot 1-under 71. He hit the ball well all day and was 2-under through five holes before a bogey on No. 7 and a double bogey on No. 8 set him back. Par-3 holes were kind to Olkowski all day, as he played the four par-3s at 3-under.
“I played pretty good, but I had a few bad shots,” Olkowski said. “I had a double off one of those bad shots. My game has been good, but my putting hasn’t been there. The greens here weren’t tough. They rolled pretty good, fast but true.”
Class 4A’s top-ranked Montrose won the meet at Dalton Ranch behind three impressive scores. Jordan Jennings led the team with an even-par round of 72. Micah Stangebye shot 1-over, as did Dawson Husson to give the Indians a seven-stroke victory ahead of Piedra Vista and eight ahead of Grand Junction.
Stangebye buried a putt from more than 30 feet on the 18th green, as he hit from off the fringe uphill and over a ridge. The ball picked up speed coming off the slope of the ridge, hit the back of the hole, popped a few inches in the air and settled in the bottom of the cup.
Durango struggled again Tuesday with a team score of 46-over. That was good for sixth place.
Ethan Whidden led the DHS varsity both days of the tournament with an 81 at Hillcrest and an 86 at Dalton Ranch. Ryan Genualdi shot 84 at Hillcrest and 88 at Dalton Ranch. Luke Tichi shot 91 at Hillcrest and 97 at Dalton Ranch, Kyle Pritchard signed for an 83 at Hillcrest and 88 at Dalton Ranch, and Luke Napier scored 84 at Hillcrest and 90 at Dalton Ranch.
It was cause for concern for the Demons, who all have put together much stronger rounds this year. With regionals only a week away at the The Bridges Golf Club in Montrose, DHS head coach Kirk Rawles knows what the Demons need to work on.
“I think just play smarter,” Rawles said. “They have a lot of talent, have all the shots, they just have to play a little smarter and putt better.”
The wind was blowing hard Monday at Hillcrest. Weather held off until the final two holes Tuesday at Dalton Ranch. Whidden said Monday’s round was a mental challenge more than anything.
“You have to stay in it mentally in the wind,” Whidden said. “In the wind, if you get down mentally you’re done.”
Whidden and the Demons will focus on improving their play around and on the greens before regionals. Two teams will qualify for the state tournament out of regionals, with the top-13 individuals not on those teams also qualifying. Rawles has hopes of qualifying the entire team but knows it will be tough playing on Montrose’s home course with a strong Evergreen team also in the region.
“The goal is to crack the 240 number,” Rawles said. “I think we can get three guys to crack 80, and 79 is usually the bubble number for qualifying for state.”
Rawles said Genualdi shot 77 at Bridges this year, while Pritchard and Whidden shot 79 and Tichi an 80.
“We have it in us,” Rawles said. “If we get them all firing on one day, we can play well at regionals. We’re ranked fourth in the region. If all the guys go out and hit the mark of 79, we can make it to state as a team.”