GREELEY — As the defending Class 4A state champion, Silver Creek's Jackson Solem was the clear favorite to win Monday's regional tournament crown.
But Windsor's Cole Krantz wasn't about to concede the title and was turning up the pressure with a blistering 3-under front nine at Boomerang Golf Course.
That is exactly the type of environment Solem, the Silver Creek senior who came from behind to win last year's state tournament, had hoped for in the final dress rehearsal before the big dance.
Much like he did in Day 2 of the 2015 finale, Solem waited patiently for things to go his way. Once they did, he played his way to a 5-under 67 with a spectacular back nine and ran away with the regional title.
"I didn't make a whole lot in the beginning and through the middle but I just thought I'd be patient," Solem said. "I was striking it well so I figured that if I kept giving myself opportunities and try to control what I can, I thought I could get it going and I finally did."
Everything seemed to click for Solem on No. 13, a short par-4 that features three water hazards that span the entire right side of the fairway and cause a skinny approach to the green. On arguably the course's most challenging hole, Solem birdied to get to 2-under par. He then birdied three of the remaining five holes to win by two strokes.
"I hit it inside of 15 feet on holes 6 through 12 and didn't make a birdie so that was a little frustrating," Solem said. "Luckily, I hit it close enough that I couldn't miss on 13."
Krantz finished second at 3-under. Silver Creek sophomore T.J. Shehee finished third at 1-over and senior teammate Dietrich Berning placed eighth at 5-over to give the Raptors the team title with a three-man score of 217.
"T.J. played pretty well," Silver Creek coach Ryan Williams said. "He was 2-under through 13 or 14 holes and he had a couple mishaps after that but it was one of his best rounds this season. Dietrich came through with a nice round to hold all three of our rounds in the seventies or lower."
At Monday's regional tournament, the four players from the top two teams and the next 13 individual finishers from other teams qualify for the state tournament.
Niwot finished second with a team score of 232, qualifying a full four-man team for state. Senior Jake Butler led the way in a tie for fourth place with a 2-over 74, ensuring his own return trip to the state tournament. Max Kuesel finished 3-over and Andrew Elliott was 11-over.
Finishing 17th overall, Erie's Caleb Humble carded a 10-over 82 to qualify for the state tournament.
4A Northern Regional
At Boomerang G.C., par 72
Team scores — Silver Creek 217, Niwot 232, Windsor 241, Thompson Valley 242, Greeley Central 250, Roosevelt 250, Erie 254, Mountain View 254, Northridge 255, Berthoud 259, Frederick 274, Fort Morgan 275, Centaurus 283, Skyline 310, Longmont 336.
Top individuals — 1.Jackson Solem, Silver Creek, 67; 2. Cole Krantz, Windsor, 69; 3. T.J. Shehee, Silver Creek 73; t4. Jake Butler, Niwot, 74; t4. Robert Heiny, Greeley Central, 74; t6. Nathan Dwyer, Thompson Valley, 75; t6. Max Kuesel, Niwot, 75; t8. Darren Edwards, Thompson Valley, 77; t8. Brady Henderson, Fort Morgan, 77; t8. Tyler Severin, Ralston Valley, 77; t. Dietrich Berning, Silver Creek, 77.
Other Silver Creek results — t22. Garret Stansel 86.
Other Niwot results — t19. Andrew Elliott 83; t30. Jack Hoover 90.
Erie results — t17. Caleb Humble 82; t22. Kellen Kudrna 86; t22. Casey Blount 86; t28. Logan Hawkins 88.
Frederick results — 27. Nick Formby 87; t.37 Colton Gabbard 93; t39. Jake Frenzel 94; t48. Cade Ridenour 99.
Centaurus results — t22. Nick Vaver 86; t39. John Houlihan 94; t52. Harry Moylan 103; t54. Jack Larson 105.
Skyline results — t37. Cade Pyle 93; 57. Carson Block 107; 58. Michael Silbernagel 110.; 62. Banks Dakin 119.
Longmont results — t48. Daniel Valencia 99; 60. Micah Frattini 117; 63. Jake Fry 122; 64. Greg Kissam 132.