Wake Forest University golfer and Jefferson Academy graduate Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title at the NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championships at Karston Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla., earlier this week.
A two-time state champion during her four years playing prep golf in Colorado from 2012-15, Kupcho's breakthrough victory a year removed from having the 2017 title slip through her fingers after a triple-bogey on No. 17 coincided perfectly with the high school championships being played on the same day. The junior's redemptive victory was the buzz out on the course and in the card room during the Class 5A state championships at Boulder Country Club, and elsewhere throughout the state.
Even several states away and several years removed from her prep career, Kupcho had a loyal following paying close attention to her big moment and she definitely felt the love.
"It's just great to have all the support of everyone in Colorado," Kupcho said. "Obviously, my parents and family and my college team were awesome and I felt like I had a lot of people rooting for me back home. It was really awesome because just the year before, I had a bad hole and this year I was able to have those holes in the middle of the round so I had time to bounce back from them."
When she won the individual championship, Kupcho became the first player to win a national title in the year following a runner-up finish since 1989-90. Kupcho's college career to date has shared some parallels with her prep career with the Jaguars.
At the end of both her freshman and sophomore seasons at Jefferson Academy, Kupcho missed the state title by either one or two strokes. As a junior, she broke through and won the Class 4A state championship in 2014. She repeated as 4A state champion in 2015.
She has obviously come a long way since her high school playing days and Colorado will be Kupcho's home base for the summer while she prepares for a rigorous golf schedule over the next several months. She will play in the Curtis Cup in June. In July, she'll play in the Arnold Palmer Cup, the Marathon Classic and the Canadian Women's Amateur Championship. In August, she'll play in the US Women's Amateur Championship.
With all that coming up, Kupcho still made time to watch the Jefferson Academy girls soccer team win the 3A state championship on Tuesday night.
"I've been practicing here and I just started work for the summer at The Ranch Country Club," Kupcho said. "It was great to see our girls soccer team get through and win the championship. I've got a lot of big things coming up so it's nice to be home for a while."
Since Kupcho graduated, the BoCoPreps.com area has continued to produce talented girls golfers.
Silver Creek's Erin Sargent won the 4A title in 2016, Holy Family's Hailey Schalk has won the past two 3A titles and Broomfield's Meghan Vogt and Fairview's Kelsey Webster tied for third in 5A earlier this week. Schalk is the only girls golfer in any classification to win back-to-back state titles since Kupcho.
One person in particular who has seen much of what has transpired in the nearly seven years since Kupcho arrived at Jefferson Academy is her father and high school coach Mike Kupcho. With a front row seat and with an unwavering believe in her ability to succeed, even he is overwhelmed by all Jennifer Kupcho has achieved from then to now.
"It is pretty amazing," Mike Kupcho said. "You just have no idea what things are going to be like in college. As a high school player, you go into college not knowing if you'll make the traveling team. Just watching her as she's traveled every time and now her expectation level now is that she's going to the NCAA and she's going there to win. She' been very successful and we're kind of in a state of amazing just watching her do what she does."