LOVELAND — Two weeks removed from the first date of official competition for the 2017 boys golf season, plenty of golfers in the BoCoPreps.com area are emerging as state tournament-level players.
A number of those players left the Loveland Invite on Thursday having added quality scores to their resumes. Among them, Fairview senior Will Branan took the biggest step forward during his round at the Olde Course at Loveland, carding a season-best 75 to finish 3-over par and tie for fourth place out of 80 varsity golfers.
Perhaps both frustrating and encouraging at the same time, Branan's breakthrough performance could have been even better.
"I was actually 2-under through nine and made some kind of dumb mistakes," Branan said. "I'm pretty happy with it because I haven't been playing my best this high school season but the game is definitely starting to come back. I was playing better during the summer but hopefully by regionals and state, I'll be back to where I need to be."
Branan, whose goal this season is to finish top five in the Front Range League, said improved consistency with the driver and sinking several long birdie putts made the difference in his score on Thursday. That difference also helped the Knights take home fourth place in the team scoring with a combined 233 strokes among their top three.
The Knights' Henry Rock, Ryder Heuston and Noah Vrencur each shot a 79 to tie for 18th place.
"We've got a young team but four kids broke 80 today, which is great," Branan said. "We're shaping up into a good team and being a top-five team at state is definitely a possibility."
Fairview, Legacy (fifth), Boulder (sixth) and Monarch (eighth) all finished in the top eight of the 17-team tournament. Senior Grant Hoos, who has come within strokes of qualifying for state in each of the past two seasons, tied for seventh place with a 4-over 76.
"It was a little bit of a roller coaster throughout the day," Hoos said. "I took a quadruple bogey on my third hole and really worked by way back from there and then took a triple on the ninth hole. I had four birdies and an eagle out there so it was just an odd day."
Sophomore Brayden Weiss shot a 5-over 77 to place to lead Monarch in 11th place, tying with Boulder's Freddie Gluck. Boulder's Andrew Platt played even-par golf through his first eight holes to finish with a 78 and tie Broomfield's Carson Briggs for 15th.
Coming off the best tournament round of his career on Wednesday, carding a 72 at Broadlands Golf Course, Broomfield's Adam Tilger shot a 79. That landed him in Thursday's 10-way tie for 18th place along with Legacy's Ben McCormick and Trenton Homchanh, and Mead's Kellen Kudrna.
At The Olde Course at Loveland, par 72
Team scores — Fossil Ridge 216, Loveland 226, Eaton 232, Fairview 233, Legacy 235, Boulder 236, Mountain Range 245, Monarch 246, Columbine 247, Resurrection Christian 247, Broomfield 248, Mead 253, Poudre 253, Fort Collins 256, Rocky Mountain 264, Horizon 274, Greeley West 310.
Top individuals — 1. Dillon Stewart, Fossil Ridge, 66; Jack Hastings, Fossil Ridge, 71; 3. Hauke Mersmann, Loveland, 74; t4. Gavin Hagstrom, Fossil Ridge, 75; t4. Peter Grossenbacher, Eaton, 75; t4. Will Branan, Fairview, 75; 7. Brady Mueller, Loveland, 76; t7. Grant Hoos, Legacy, 76; t7. Henry Stucky, Loveland, 76; t7. Micah Ramirez, Resurrection Christian, 76.
Other Fairview results — t18. Henry Rock 79; t18. Noah Vrencur 79; t18. Ryder Heuston 79; t28. Will Chadwick 80.
Other Legacy results — t18. Ben McCormick 79; t18. Trenton Homchanh 79; t28. Hunter Hayes 80; t35. Cormac Arroyo 82.
Boulder results — t11. Freddie Gluck 77; t15. Andrew Platt 78; t31. Henry Howser 81; t37. Grant Alqatami 83; 40. Eric Larsson 84.
Broomfield results — t15. Carson Briggs 78; t18. Adam Tilger 79; t49. Nolan Wolff 88; t60. Triston Schmidt 91.
Mead results — t18. Kellen Kudrna 79; t31. TJ Shehee 81; t65. Tanner Strong 93; 75. Houston Irwin 104.
Monarch results — t11. Brayden Weiss 77; t40. Joseph Waddle 84; t43. Spencer Daake 85; 45. Grant Myers 87.