If the three Durango High School girls golf players attending the state tournament next week in Windsor can all shoot their scoring averages, the Demons will have a shot to claim a title.
Durango will send Quinn Griswold, Madalen Meier and Lilly Tichi to the tee box when the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A Girls State Championship opens Monday at the Pelican Lakes Golf & Country Club. Griswold will tee off at 8:39 a.m. along with Montrose’s Carlaline Burwell and Discovery Canyon’s Mena Song-Lew. Tichi will go at 8:48 a.m. along with Niwot’s Laure Bourgin and Mullen’s Paige Sowtich, and Meier’s tee time is set for 8:57 a.m. along with Niwot’s Halie Ostrom and Northridge’s Emma Sheaffer. Tee times and groupings for Tuesday’s second round will be decided after the completion of the first.
With three players, the Demons will be able to score as a team. Meier has led the team with an average in the low 80s, Tichi has followed in the mid-80s, while Griswold shot her career best at regionals two weeks earlier with an 87.
DHS head coach Kirk Rawles knows the Demons have a chance to place high if the girls can post a similar result. DHS will enter the tournament ranked fifth in the state.
“I keep telling them, and I don’t know if they believe me or not, but given the scores they shot at regionals, they can be fairly competitive at state this year,” Rawles said. “If three players can average 85 for two days in a row, you have a legitimate shot of winning.”
Pelican Lakes is known for having the most shoreline in the country with four man-made lakes that come into play on 10 holes. The standard scorecard suggests the ladies tees play for a total of 5,226 yards on the par-72 course.
Rawles said the fairways are pretty wide, but he expects the course to play longer and the rough to be grown out to create tough conditions.
Those wide fairways could favor Meier, a powerful driver of the ball off the tee. Last year at state, she placed 39th overall.
“One of my biggest strengths is long drives,” the daughter of K’lyn and Ron Meier said. “I’m confident since there are wider fairways that I will have some good plays and get those par-4s in regulation and get par-5s in under regulation.”
Meier and her private coach Shea Sena at Dalton Ranch Golf Club have taken a close look at the state course and have prepared well for the shots she will face.
All of the Demons have practiced lag putting to prepare for undulating greens. They’ve also sharpened their game around the greens, as Pelican Lakes features a lot of false fronts that will make it hard for players to get up-and-down within two shots.
Tichi is the best putter of the group, and she said she feels much more confident with her flat stick during regular rounds of golf than in weeks of practice leading up the tournament.
“In an actually round, I have a lot more confidence than when (assistant coach Kermitt Barrett) is breathing down my neck,” joked the daughter of Kerry and Mike Tichi. “Sometimes, I feel less pressure in tournament situations. “
Tichi will look to improve from her tie for 59th at state last year. Though the smallest player on the Demons’ team, Rawles said she has surprising power off the tee and will greatly benefit from any long drives to have shorter approaches onto the greens.
“I’m going to do my best and put everything I have into it,” she said.
[image;2,headshot]Griswold has the sharpest iron game of the Demons’ trio. At regionals, she left her driver in the bag and used hybrids off the tee to keep the ball in the fairway and use her irons to set up her career-best round. She knows that won’t always be an option at state. If she does have longer approaches and is unable to hit greens in regulation, she said she has improved her chipping and is confident she can avoid some blowup holes.
Griswold will aim to improve on her 43rd-place finish at state last year.
“If we play the way we did at regionals and fix the blowup holes, we have a really good chance of doing well,” the daughter of Khristie and Sean Griswold said. “This tournament, my goal is to beat last year’s state score.”
With only three players at practice over the last two weeks, the group has bonded even closer on an already tight-knit squad, a trademark of Rawles- and Barrett-coached teams. With state experience already under their belt, they may still feel some first-tee nerves, but they’re ready to have fun and enjoy one last tournament together.
“If these three were playing a scramble, they’d be pretty tough to beat,” Rawles said. “I think they’re going to go up there and really look forward to it more this year with a lot less nerves.”