GRAND JUNCTION -- The vermilion cliffs over Tiara Rado Golf Course made for an inspiring backdrop for the Class 5A girls state golf tournament. But outside of scenery, Fairview could find few other positives about the competition.
The Knights far from melted down in the high desert, but the seasoned foursome was fairly low after a rocky opening day left them short of their goals. After a consistent and impressive run through the regular season, Fairview's players were sure they would be in contention for a top finish.
As things stood Monday, it is going to take a big second day and missteps by the competition to hoist the Knights to the top.
"It was a hard day for sure," Fairview senior Megan McCambridge said. "It was rough for everybody."
Fairview finished eighth in the team standing with a score of 265 and 29 strokes behind leader Cherry Creek. The score seemed way out of bounds for the program that had been on the prowl for the Bruins this season. The Knights were just a few putts, pars and birdies off defending state champions at three regular-season invitationals.
What made this round so different than the previous were the circumstances the team rolled into the Western Slope under. The players finished up their academic year the previous week with finals. Then three of the foursome -- McCambridge, Kelly Moran and Jordan Sunset -- walked at Fairview's graduation Sunday night, arriving in Grand Junction after 10 p.m. that night.
While the run up to the opening round was hectic, it was one John Zerwin believed they had regrouped from by Monday's first tee.
"I thought they were all in pretty good spots this morning," the Fairview coach said. "But expectations are tough though. You put a lot of heavy expectations, sometimes you can't hang on to them."
Moran had the Knights best opening, exiting the first day tied for 11th place. But the senior had to stage a comeback from her front nine at the par-72 course to finish 8-over. The William and Mary University recruit had a run of bogeys before the turn, punctuated by a double on par-3 No. 4.
"It was a tee shot that I had actually hit pretty well," she said. "But I used the wrong club and it went into the water."
Moran is still in the hunt to improve on her 11th-place finish from a year ago. Nobody shot par and only 10 girls broke 80, so the field is still filled with opportunity.
"I think I'm still right in there," she said. "I just need to go out there and do the same thing, except make a few more putts and up and downs and I'll be good to go."
McCambridge had the Knights' next lowest round with an 86 and sits in the top 30. Jordan Sunset and Madison McCambridge rounded out the team's day shooting 98 and 106 respectively. Zerwin empathized with his team's low mood after the round, but believes it can only go up from Monday.
"We're just going to try have a better day than today," the coach said. "We going to play it stroke for stoke and try to get a better result tomorrow."
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Class 5A state tournament
At Tiara Rado G.C., par 72
Team scores -- Cherry Creek 236, Arapahoe 239, Regis 245, Legacy 255, Highlands Ranch 256, Heritage 261, Dakota Ridge 261, Fairview 264, Loveland 265, Rock Canyon 267, Fossil Ridge 271, Grand Junction Central 279, Grand Junction 300, Standley Lake 310, Columbine 318, Lakewood 335.
Top 10 individuals -- 1. Cali Ringsby, Cherry Creek, 73; T2. Claudia Davis, Arapahoe, 75; T2. Michelle Romano, Rock Canyon, 75; T2. Jenni Chun, Highlands Ranch, 75; 5. Sydney Merchant, Dakota Ridge, 76; 6. Gillian Vance, Dakota Ridge, 77; 7. Delaney Elliott, Monarch, 78; T8. Morgan Sahm, Grandview, 79; T8. Mary Kate Nelson, Pine Creek, 79; T11. Kelly Moran, Fairview, 80; T11. Heather Kroll, Horizon, 80; T11. Jenn Kempton, Heritage, 80; T11. Hannah Wood, Arapahoe, 80; T11 Megan McCambridge 80.
Other Fairview results -- Jordan Sunset 98, Madison McCambridge 106.
Other Legacy results -- Morgan Hoos 91, Lisa From 88, Jennifer Hankins 88.
Boulder results -- Aly Beeman 94.
Skyline results -- Adara Pauluhn 83.