BOULDER — The Fairview girls golfers were riding an emotional high on Thursday, and it wasn’t just because of the first eagle of Kelly Moran’s life, or the numerous birdies the Knights carded at Flatirons Golf Course.
Those were certainly reasons to be elated, but so was the fact that FHS, which dominated its Front Range League opponents last year, picked up where it left off in 2011 — and then some.
In co-hosting the league opener Thursday with Boulder, the Knights posted a 23-shot victory in the nine-team meet at Flatirons. The individual co-champions — juniors Jordan Sunset and Moran — were from Fairview, as were three of the five players who broke 80. It was about what you’d expect from a team that finished sixth at state last year and returns three of its top four golfers.
“Having three players that can shoot those kind of scores is pretty strong in girls golf,” said first-year FHS head coach John Zerwin, a former University of Colorado golfer. “Most teams have one or two players. We’re just real fortunate to have three.”
The Knights’ top four golfers posted a 323 team total, which made for a runaway in the return to full-league tournaments after having fields split into divisions in recent years. Fort Collins (346) placed second and Legacy (364) third. Boulder, led by Alex Jaros’ 89, came in seventh at 411. Monarch, in its first tournament of the season, finished ninth at 440 as Madisson Mullen led the way with a 98.
But it was Moran who put on the show of the day in winning (or tying for the victory) in a high school tournament for the first time. She and Sunset each shot 4-over-par 74, which was three strokes better than Legacy sophomore Sarah Hankins and Poudre’s Ana Summers. FHS junior Megan McCambridge placed fifth at 79.
After starting the season relatively slowly with tournament rounds of 90 and 85, Moran made up for lost time on Thursday. She began the round with four straight bogeys, but carded an eagle and four birdies in her final 13 holes. And the way she did it was hardly conventional.
She chipped in from 60 feet for birdie on No. 8 and sank a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 12. Then, after taking a triple bogey on No. 16, she holed out from 38 yards for eagle on the 17th.
“After what I did on the previous hole, I was very excited,” said Moran, who placed 28th in the 5A state tournament last year. All told, the 74 tied her best round ever.
“It’s a lot better than my last two tournaments,” she said. “I think my confidence is back a little bit and the winter rust is off.”
Sunset, who tied for first place in the Front Range League Championship last year, was more conventional in her round of 74 on Thursday, making two birdies offset by four bogeys and a double bogey.
“It’s one of my better scores for sure,” she said. “My short game was not the best the last couple of days, but it came together today, so that was good. I made a lot of putts and got it up and down.”
The Knights certainly have begun the season on a high note, finishing fourth and second at large invitationals, then easily winning on Thursday.
“I’m very pleased with how they’re starting. It’s awesome,” Zerwin said.
Meanwhile, Hankins, who won the league meet at Flatirons last year, was solid on Thursday, but a few errant shots cost her a chance to repeat despite needing only 31 putts on Thursday.
“I was excited (to defend her title), but I’ll take it; it’s in the 70s,” said Hankins, who finished 19th at state last year. “I love this course, especially the greens. They’re my favorite greens to putt on.
“My goal this year is to average in the upper 70s, so I’m on my way” after starting the season with tournament rounds of 76 and 77.
Front Range League Meet 1
At Par-70 Flatirons GC in Boulder
Team scores — Fairview 323, Fort Collins 346, Legacy 364, Poudre 370, Loveland 382, Horizon 394, Boulder 411, Mountain Range 413, Monarch 440.
Top individuals — Jordan Sunset, Fairview 74; Kelly Moran, Fairview 74; Sarah Hankins, Legacy 77; Ana Summers, Poudre 77; Megan McCambridge, Fairview 79.
Boulder scores — Alex Jaros 89, Aly Beeman 95, Lucille VanVooren 106, Danielle Picard 121, Rachel Roderick 123.
Monarch scores — Madisson Mullen 98, Elise Kinney 112, Ashlyn Stull 115, Kelsey Barlow 115, Taegan Brooks 125.
Other Fairview scores — Maddy Stewart 96, Shannon Burke 105.
Other Legacy scores — Morgan Stacks 88, Morgan Hoos 89, Elysia Newton 110, Rachel Cadden 135.