BROOMFIELD — Watching her play, it's easy to forgot how young Hailey Schalk actually is.
After all, the freshman at Holy Family is only 15 years old, and the 2017 campaign was her first season of high school golf.
Although she is young, Schalk's talent showed through in the way she spent the past two days carving up Broadlands Golf Course on her way to winning Class 3A's first state championship. After carding a personal-best 65 on Monday, Schalk easily held off the field by shooting a 3-over 74 on Tuesday to finish the tournament and win the individual title by seven strokes.
Not only was the state title a major milestone for Schalk, winning it as a freshman completed perhaps the most difficult step towards becoming the first four-time state champion in Colorado prep girls golf history.
"Yesterday being my best round ever, that just put me in a great position and no matter what happened today, that was still really cool," Schalk said. "It's awesome to win it in my first year and as a freshman was really exciting. Just being able to set that bar is really awesome."
Only two players - Cherry Creek's Lynn Ann Moretto and Mullen's Ashley Tait - have ever won three girls golf state championships in their Colorado prep careers.
Schalk, who switched putters the night before the state tournament began, started her first state tournament round with a string of five birdies and an 18-hole score that allowed her to start Tuesday's final round both six under par and six strokes ahead of the next golfer.
Playing conservatively in the wind on Tuesday, Schalk still birdied Nos. 3 and 4 to drop as low as 8-under and finish the front nine in 35 strokes. Still playing it safe, Schalk went 4-over on the back nine to cruise into the clubhouse in front of an expectant crowd.
Making a debut of its own, the Holy Family team placed second, behind Colorado Academy, in its first year with a program after a several-year hiatus.
"For our team to get second, it's just been really cool for all of us," Schalk said. "High school golf is fun because you have a team, and you don't get that in other tournaments. It's fun to grow as a team and really progress throughout the whole season. I think we all did that and we all worked really hard, so that makes it really awesome."
It wasn't just Schalk's championship effort that netted the Tigers the second-place team trophy, either. Teammate Megahn Vogt shot a 76 on Tuesday to finish in a tie for seventh place at 11-over. Heather Stauter, who carded a 96 on Day 1, shot an 87 to place 21st, which Tigers head coach Matt Schalk said was likely the deciding factor in his team edging Kent Denver for third by five strokes.
"It was a great thing to experience team golf and we're extremely proud of our team, first and foremost," Matt Schalk said. "We were playing for the team and we only had a two-shot lead on them. The most important thing was Heather Stauter coming through for us and playing well so we could take second place."
Jefferson Academy finished seventh in the team scoring. Trinity Stuart led the way for the Jaguars, shooting a two-day score of 206 to tie for 35th. Emily Grantham finished 73-over for the tournament to place 49th, while Maya Gordon ended up 75-over and tied for 51st.
Class 3A girls golf state championships
At Broadlands G.C., par 71
Team scores — Colorado Academy 447, Holy Family 475, Kent Denver 480, Rifle 483, Berthoud 558, Pueblo County 563, Jefferson Academy 638, Elizabeth 644, Gunnison 659, The Classical Academy 679, Swink 682, Mullen 707, Burlington 727.
Top individuals — 1. Hailey Schalk, Holy Family, 65-74-139; 2. Charlotte Hillary, Kent Denver, 74-72-146; t3. Cassie Kneen, Colorado Academy, 71-76-147; t3. Caroline Jordaan, Colorado Academy, 72-75-147; 5. Ely Walters, Rifle, 77-71-148; 6. Masi Smith, Rifle, 75-75-150; t7. Meghan Vogt, Holy Family, 77-76-153; t7. Marie Jordan, Colorado Academy, 72-81-153; 9. Marin Halvorsen, Kent Denver, 79-76-155; 10. Trinity Goderstad, Colorado Academy, 74-86-160.
Other Holy Family results — 21. Heather Stauter, 96-87-183; t35. Annika Achziger, 108-98-206.
Jefferson Academy results — t35. Trinity Stuart, 98-108-206; 49. Emily Grantham, 106-109-215; t51. Maya Gordon, 122-95-217.