LAFAYETTE — Dawson's Billy Howenstein has about as decorated a state tournament resume as a prep golfer can have without an individual title to his name.
Now a senior, Howenstein is hoping to change that in 2018.
In three years of high school golf, Howenstein has finished in the top 10 in Class 3A at the end of each of his three seasons. He has finished in the top five twice. Another top-five finish would be a satisfying feather in his cap but a state championship is what Howenstein is really after this year, and he's hoping a methodical approach makes the difference.
The state tournament has been kind to Howenstein and however things shake out in early October, he's looking forward to one more opportunity to thrive when the pressure is on.
"I am really just trying to take it one shot at a time," Howenstein said. "It comes down to just focusing on the process of how I can get my preparation ready for the end of the season. I'm working on getting my mind ready and trying to enjoy it. I just love the whole atmosphere at state. I can still remember the feeling when I showed up to state my freshman year at Eagle Ranch.
"It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you have to play perfectly or getting nervous and stressed because it's state. I love the atmosphere, I love the competition and I'm not afraid to go out there and have fun."
Howenstein indeed has fond memories of showing up at state as a freshman. He also has fond memories of leaving with a fifth-place medal that year. His sophomore season, Howenstein had a two-day score of 153 and finished in a tie for 10th place. As a junior last fall, he carded a 73 at Indian Peaks and was one of eight players to tie for fourth place at the rain-shorted, one-day state tournament.
This year, Howenstein likely will enter the state tournament as one of several title contenders. But this year, he'll do so while playing on his home course at Boulder Country Club.
"It's an honor and a privilege," Howenstein said. "I know the course well and I know that if I play my game, I can shoot low scores. It will be really fun to represent my home course. I love it there, I love the track and I expect that to be really fun for me."
With other top teams like Colorado Academy, Kent Denver and Aspen in the mix, the Mustangs are also looking to show well at a team at state since they will be hosting the state tournament. Qualifying a team and being counted in the team-scoring competition is now the bigger-picture goal for the Mustangs, who won team title in 2013 and 2014.
Of course, all that is easier said than done.
Mustangs sophomore Tommy Noonan is recovering from a broken leg he suffered in June and played his first competitive match of the season last week. Nate Bernstein came within a few shots of qualifying last year and Tucker Heroux expects to qualify as a senior.
"That would be awesome," Mustangs head coach Arnold Lewis said. "For us to get a team there would absolutely be hitting one of our season goals. I think it's going to take some work for a couple of our players to get there but I'm already beginning to see some strides. One of our team captains, Tucker Heroux, is playing the best golf of his life. With Billy and Tucker leading us, I think we definitely have the potential to do it.
"We don't want to just host state for one or two guys. We want to have a team there to compete and I think we can get it done."