LOVELAND — Nine of the 14 players on last season's Centaurus boys golf team were freshmen, which left many of them turning their eyes to the future and what they might accomplish as they grew older.
Nick Vaver was one of those players, perhaps the one most excitedly dreaming on his team's future potential. Now a sophomore, Vaver is poised for the breakout season that he and many of his teammates spent last year waiting for. In the Northern League season opener at The Olde Course on Thursday, Vaver carded a 12-over 84 to place 12th.
It wasn't a top-10 finish. But Vaver's season-opening effort showed the conference that he could be one of its 10 best players by the end of 2016 and his hope of appearing at the Class 4A state tournament is no longer just a dream.
"I had some mistakes but I hit my drives pretty straight so mostly it was pretty good," Vaver said. "This was good and I hope to shoot even better towards the end of the season as we get more ready for the bigger tournaments. I'm hoping for a chance to get to state. I had a bad regional last year so I know how important it is that I play well in the final tournament."
In the first tournament of his sophomore campaign, a wet affair that saw heavy rain and lightning delay play for 30 minutes, Vaver was just 5-over on the front nine and seven on the back. He picked up four of his eight strokes over par on two holes.
Reigning Class 4A state champions Jackson Solem took first with a 3-under 69. The Silver Creek senior birdied seven holes in total and went 3-under on the back nine to help the Raptors finish first in the team scoring with a team stroke total of 237. Silver Creek head coach Ryan Williams was most pleased to see freshman Garrett Stansel card a 78 and place fifth in his prep debut.
"I didn't make as many putts as I would have liked but it was pretty good," Stansel said. "I was hoping to shoot about what I did, maybe a little lower. For my first high school tournament, I feel pretty good about it. I have some big goals, like getting top 10 at state so this was a good start."
Led by Jake Butler, who placed ninth at 10-over, the Niwot Cougars finished third in the team scoring.
"It was a tough day with the weather and the starting and stopping," Niwot head coach Ed Weaver said. "But it was a solid effort."
The second Northern League match will be at Highland Hills Golf Course in Greeley on Tuesday starting at 12:30 p.m.
Northern League Tournament 1
At The Olde Course, par 72
Team scores — Silver Creek 237, Thompson Valley 253, Niwot 266, Northridge 272, Greeley Central 278, Mountain View 280, Fort Morgan 304, Longmont 330, Centaurus 334.
Top individuals — 1. Jackson Solem, Silver Creek, 69; 2. Darren Edwards, Thompson Valley, 72; 3. Nathan Dwyer, Thompson Valley, 74; 4. Connor Burke, Northridge, 77; 5. Garrett Stansel, Silver Creek, 78; t6. Robert Heiny, Greeley Central, 79; t6. T.J. Shehee, Silver Creek, 79; .8. Brady Henderson, Fort Morgan, 80; 9. Jake Butler, Niwot, 82; 10. Dietrich Berning, Silver Creek, 83.
Other Silver Creek results — t12. David Brett 84.
Other Niwot results — t12. Andrew Elliott 84; t15. Jackson Keener 85; 18. Max Kuesel 87; t31. Jack Hoover 98.
Centaurus results — t12. Nick Vaver 84; t33. John Painter 103; 39. David Celano 109; t40. Jack Larson 110; 42. Kaden Shepard 112.
Longmont results — 28. Micah Frattini 95; t31. Easton Nelson 98; t33. Greg Kissam 103; t36. Jake Fry 106; t. 40 Bennett Wiley 110.