BROOMFIELD — Jefferson Academy's Aubri Braecklein turned a lot of heads when she placed sixth at the Class 3A state tournament last year.
She was, after all, just a freshman then.
A year older and a ways removed from the two-day 161 she shot at Elmwood Golf Club last May, Braecklein has top-five potential this spring. Then there's the fact that Holy family's two-time defending champion Hailey Schalk is moving up to Class 4A, which means Braecklein's potential may now put the Jaguars sophomore solidly in the running for the 3A state title.
"I'm excited for the season and not only what I can do individually, but what our team can do," Braecklein said. "We did well as a team last season and we've got a lot of girls back that made it to state last year. We're hopeful that we can go as a team to state this spring."
In preparation for her sophomore campaign, Braecklein played in several in-state and out-of-state tournaments over the summer. In terms of her improvement, it was important to her that she improve her game starting in the tee box after she struggled in that area throughout last year's state tournament.
"Last year at state, my driving was not the best," Braecklein said."I was in a bunch of trees so that was probably the thing I worked on the most and the biggest improvements I have made. I've been a lot better with the driver, hitting it straighter and further."
Not only is Braecklein suddenly a title contender, she leads a group of Jaguars who appear to be rounding into form all at the right time. Plus, they are all getting healthy. With everything seemingly lining up in their favor, the Jaguars could also be a sneaky good team that could compete for at least at top-three team placement the 3A state tournament on May 20-21 at Eagle Ranch in Vail.
Jaguars junior Trinity Stewart placed 15th at state last year and is eyeing a jump up the final standings of her own.
"I'm expecting to shoot in the 30s for the nine-hole tournaments and the 70s and 80s for the 18-hole tournaments," Stewart said. "I've been working a lot on my chipping. Some days last season, I would have good chipping days and then days where it wasn't as good. I want to make most days better days. I think about state all the time and I'd like to get into the top 10, maybe even the top five."
Senior Lauren Alberts returns after placing 42nd at state last May and senior Ellie Hausmann is back after missing the 2018 season while recovering from ACL surgery. A host of other players like Valeria Jimenez provide the Jaguars with the depth they'll need to compete in the team competitions a regionals and state.
Joining the Jaguars in 2019, Missy Schreiner takes over as head coach after spending the last eight years coaching nearby Peak to Peak. Given what the Jaguars accomplished last season and what she's already seen in limited preseason practices, Schreiner is excited about the group she has inherited at Jefferson Academy.
"I'm excited about it. I think there's a very realistic probability there. I'm just getting started with this team and getting a feel for our depth and how we work as a team. We have a couple standout players and a lot of other solid girls and that's what you need to compete at the state tournament."
Brad Cochi: cochib@dailycamera or twitter.com/BradCochi