AURORA - The Boulder area's vise grip on Class 3A golf has been loosened ... by a little.
The past two medalists and team champion had come from the valley.
However, even though Cherry Hills Village's Kent Denver produced the latest individual and team champions on a gloriously sunny and warm Tuesday in early fall, Boulder-area players snagged six of the top-10 individual spots and two of the top three team spots at a still-in-great-shape and challenging Saddle Rock Golf Course.
The junior-laden Peak to Peak Pumas, state champions a year ago, were headed by Ethan Tartaglia, who finished in third place by firing a second-round, even-par 72 for a 2-under total of 146 that could have been even better - he bogeyed 16 and 17 after getting to 1-under and just a shot back of eventual champion Oliver Jack.
Tartaglia went 36-36 and had a hot putter for a bit before three-putting the par-3 16th, then making another bogey on 17 after an errant tee shot.
"I don't know, it was just nice to have my putter back working and I had some drop today," he said. "Once I reached 2-under on the day I felt there could be a chance, but Oliver can go low. I tried not to look at the leaderboard and play my own game."
Still, he added, "it was a good experience, for sure."
It seemed to be universal for the high end of the valley. There were few complaints. 2014 champion Yale Kim of the Dawson School tied for fourth at 4-over; Peak to Peak's Nishant Datta and Ian Thorpe as well as Jefferson Academy's Jacob Mason tied for sixth at 7-over.
"It was good," said Kim, who played in the final group. "I had some putts that I thought should have gone in, but all in all, I'm satisfied," he said after shooting 39-36 in his second round. "I was proud of myself for playing even on the back nine."
Mason, a freshman, went 73-78 for the championship and limped home a bit with bogeys on 17 and 18 to come in at 40, but the 14-year-old showed he belonged and wants more.
"I felt like it was a great experience for a freshman to come to state, but I was disappointed about my finish, but it happens," he said. "I didn't really do what I could have done down the stretch ... this is a good experience and I can learn from it for the next three years if I make state. I had fun and I enjoyed it."
Even 2015 champion Sam Taylor of Peak to Peak, who was no factor at 84-86 and ended tied for 40th, found himself running around the course after his round and pulling for teammates.
"I still had fun," he said.
Jack and Estes Park's Ivan Richmond finished regulation at even-par 144 with Richmond coming up with a 1-under 71 on Tuesday.
For teams, Kent Denver won its ninth title with a 13-over total of 445. Peak to Peak was three shots back and Dawson School third at plus-39.
"I was extremely pleased with how they played today, especially Ethan; that's the round of his life," Pumas coach John Thornbury said. "He was very temperamental the last couple of years, but he kept it under control and is much more mature, and I'm very proud of him. For him to put two rounds together like that is very impressive.
"I'm very pleased. Kent Denver played very well and beat us. We didn't lose it. That's about all I can ask for."
Class 3A state tournament, Final
At Saddle Rock Golf Club
Team scores — Kent Denver, 445; Peak to Peak, 448; Dawson, 471; Eaton 475; Aspen, 478; Sterling, 485; Delta, 487; Basalt, 493; Lutheran, 505; Alamosa, 507; Holy Family, 527; Cedaredge, 537; Manitou Springs, 577; Pagosa Springs, 586 .
Top individuals — 1. Oliver Jack, Kent Denver (72-72)144*; 2. Ivan Richmond, Estes Park, (73-71) 144; 3. Ethan Tartaglia, Peak to Peak, (74-72)146; T4. Yale Kim, Dawson School, (73-75)148; T4. Jackson Klutznick, Kent Denver, (75-73)148; T6. Nishant Datta, Dawson School, (76-75)151; T6. Ian Thorpe, Peak to Peak, (75-76)151; T6. Liam O'Halloran, TCA, (74-77)151; T6. Jacob Mason, Jefferson Academy, (73-78)151; T10. Ben Zimmerman, Kent Denver, (78-75)153; T10. Billy Howenstein, Dawson School, (76-77)153.
Other results — 14. Walker Franklin, Prospect Ridge, (77-78) 155; T17. Colton Clingman, Holy Family, (81-78) 159; T25. Jaxon Franklin, Prospect Ridge, (81-81) 162; T40. Andrew Platt, Dawson School, (88-82) 170; T40. Sam Taylor, Peak to Peak, (84-86) 170; 58. Garrett Green, Holy Family, (84-96) 180; 67. Hunter Hill, Holy Family, (96-93), 189; T69. Diego Montoya, Holy Family, (95-97) 192.