PUEBLO - Last year, Erin Sargent was so close to a state golf championship. She came in third at the Class 4A girls golf tournament at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale.
After the first day this year, she's sitting in first. And she's looking to stay there.
Sargent shot a 3-over 75 to take a one-shot lead over Colorado Academy's Caroline Jordaan during Monday's first round at the Pueblo Country Club. She's hoping that the lessons she learned from a year ago will serve her well as she aims to remain atop the leaderboard through Tuesday's final round.
"Every time I come out to the golf course I learn something new," Sargent said. "It's just another round that gets me more familiar with the course. I was in some places today that I haven't been before and hopefully I can continue to put myself in situations where I can score well."
She started her round with a bogey on her second hole, but gained the stroke back on No. 3. She went on a run of four-straight pars before sinking her second birdie of the day on 8. She made two bogeys and a double-bogey on the back nine, but overall was able to stay out of trouble through her round.
What was impressive of that aspect of her game was the fact that she pulled her driver out more than she normally would in a round.
"I would say she's hitting her driver more on this course than she usually does," Silver Creek coach Meredith Nelson said. "We're playing a little bit of a longer yardage than we usually do, but she's played this course a lot to where she knows where not to hit it."
And when it came to the short game, all she wanted to do was get chances to make birdies or pars. It was a telling sign on 11 and 12 when she just missed on birdie putts on what were arguably two of the toughest greens on the day.
"Overall, I was putting myself in contention," Sargent said. "I was giving myself birdie opportunities and if I kept giving myself opportunities, they'll start dropping."
Niwot's Claire McPeak notched herself a top-20 after the first day, shooting a 14-over 86. She navigated the front nine okay, but three double-bogeys on the back is what hurt her standing.McPeak's teammate Keenan Strope came in at 28-over.
Skyline also had a pair of golfers playing in the tournament. Grace Gunlikson shot 19-over on the day while Audrey Gulikson shot 49-over.
For the first time in school history, Fredrick sent a girl to state. Erin Baum shot 36-over on Monday and will tee-off at 9:51 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Class 4A state championship
At Pueblo Country Club
Team scores — 1. Colorado Academy 244, 2. Cheyenne Mountain 265, 3. Rifle 274, 4. Northridge 275, 5. Golden 283, 6. Windsor 287, 7. Vista Peak 298, 8. Pueblo County 316.
Top individuals — 1. Erin Sargent, Silver Creek, 75; 2. Caroline Jordaan, Colorado Academy, 76; 3. Kelsey McKenna, Air Academy, 77; 4. Emily Walters, Rifle, 78; 5. Kiselya Plewe, Dolores, 79; 6. Sydney Prey, Golden, 80; 7. Masi Smith, Rifle, 81; T8. Kellsey Sample, Palmer Ridge, 82; T8. Marin Halvorsen, Kent Denver, 82; T8. Kacey Godwin, Colorado Academy, 82.
Other local results —
14. Claire McPeak, Niwot, 86
28. Grace Gunlikson, Skyline, 91
57. Keena Strope, Niwot, 100
72. Erin Baum, Frederick, 108
84. Audrey Gunlikson, Skyline, 121