FORT COLLINS — It was like nothing else the ladies of the Monarch golf team had seen all year.
The Jack Nicklaus layout at Ptarmigan Country Club, with its tight fairways and big greens, put an emphasis on quality shot making and on a day where a berth in the state tournament was at stake, the Coyotes didn't seem at all fazed by the challenge in front of them.
Despite not having their best day, Monarch was still good enough on Monday to claim the regional crown — their seventh tournament win of the season — and qualify all four girls to the Class 5A state tournament at Commonground G.C. on May 23-24. The Coyotes (243) edged Heritage (244) by a single shot to win and the hosts from Loveland (247) were a close third.
"It was a harder course than we have had all year and there was some real decision making opportunities and some blind shots that snuck up on us," said Monarch coach Mike Riley, whose team got one look at the course before Monday's tournament. "We followed prom with a regional tournament and that is tough on everyone, but they fought through and hung in there and only gave up a few strokes."
The leader of the pack on Monday was Carly Gallant.
The Monarch junior, who was admittedly a bundle of nerves before her 9:50 tee-time, played about as clean an outward nine holes of golf as she could have hoped for.
A wedge to within 5 feet on the 474-yard par-5 No. 2, produced her lone birdie of the round and took her to 1-under par. It was a score she maintained until a three-putt bogey on No. 8.
"I hit the ball and my putting was just okay, but overall I played pretty well," said Gallant, whose 5-over par 77 was a personal tournament best. "That birdie really helped me get moving and get some momentum going."
The goal coming in, a conservative approach by Riley to his girls, was just to hit greens and make pars. Gallant hit 13-of-18 greens and really avoided any sort of big numbers until she doubled No. 18.
Even through holes 14-16, which the locals call "Ptarmageddon," Gallant held her own and despite hitting her drive in the water on No. 16, she recovered to make a nice bogey.
"Getting up-and-down from 50 yards was really big," said Gallant, who was paired with regional champion Joanna Kempton of Heritage — who was the only play in red figures, firing a 1-under par 71.
"It felt good to finally play well and now the stress is over with, the pressure and now it's time to go to state and put up some good numbers."
Senior Delaney Elliott struggled, but her 8-over par was plenty good enough to punch her ticket.
Elliott, who finished tied for ninth at state last season, doubled her first hole, but recovered with a nice birdie on No. 2 to settle the nerves.
"Today (my play) didn't really end up affecting our team and where we ended up which was good," Elliott said. "And as long as we qualified for state, that is all that matters."
The Coyotes didn't automatically get all four players in by virtue of their team win. Emma Teuton's 86 was good enough to get in and Liina Neitenbach's 105 was within the 10 shot margin of the last qualifier to also sneak in.
CLASS 5A NORTHERN REGIONAL
At Ptarmigan Country Club, par 71
Team scores (top two teams qualify for state) — Monarch 243, Heritage 244, Loveland 247, Arapahoe 270, Chaparral 286, Northglenn 289, Coronado 293, Douglas County 314, Poudre 319, Bear Creek 324, Thornton 333, Mountain Range 341, Hinkley NS, Smoky Hill NS.
State qualifiers — Joanna Kempton, Heritage, 71; Carly Gallant, Monarch 77; Aili Bundy, Loveland, 79; Lauren Lehigh, Loveland 79; Delaney Elliott, Monarch, 80; Amish Singh, Smoky Hill, 81; Gabby Esquibel, Heritage 85; Beth Lebar, Arapahoe 85; Emma Teuton, Monarch 86; Leia Vadeen, Northglenn, 86; Katie Malcolm, Chaparral 87; Delaney Benson, Heritage, 88; Christine Attai, Arapahoe 89; Hannah Doran, Loveland, 89; Madi Eurich, Coronado, 91; Allie Garcia, Coronado, 91; Amanda Westrick, Thornton, 92; Kendra George, Heritage 93; Nicole Tedesco, Douglas County, 94; Jacq Pepper, Arapahoe 96; Liina Neitenbach, Monarch 105.