LOVELAND — Boulder High School has a proud history in boys golf, having won a couple of state titles, including one in 1963 when a BHS player named Hale Irwin claimed the individual championship.
But the heyday for the Panthers was quite a while ago; their last state title came in 1982. And BHS has endured a considerable drought when it comes to just getting a full team qualified for state.
However, that dry spell came to an end on Friday when the Panthers advanced a full squad to state for the first time since placing second in 1995.
With two teams earning automatic berths in the 5A state tournament, Boulder finished second on Friday — behind only Douglas County — in the 5A Northern Regional at Mariana Butte Golf Course.
“This is definitely a big deal, especially because we’ve been playing well all season,” sophomore Grant Rogers said of the 2012 Front Range League champions. “It’s nice to put it together for one tournament against all these good teams.”
Added interim BHS head coach Steve Disbrow: “It’s really exciting. It’s great for these guys and it’s great for Boulder High. It’s a really significant accomplishment considering the caliber of teams and players that were here.”
Rogers, who won the 2011 regional title and placed 13th at state last year as an individual, will be joined at this season’s state tourney by teammates Grant Dinkel, Alec Poorman and Rio Moore. The 5A state meet is set for Oct. 1-2 at The Club at Rolling Hills in Golden.
Also advancing out of the 20-team field Friday were two players from Fairview (Matt Vacek and Kevin Wohlfarth), one from Monarch (Jackson Elliott) and one from Legacy (Eric Chen).
Vacek, returning to state three years after going as a freshman for Centaurus, tied for second place at Friday’s regional with an even-par 72. He finished six strokes behind Douglas County’s Kyler Dunkle, who shot a competitive course record 6-under-par 66.
Poorman, a freshman, led the way for Boulder by placing fourth with a 73 despite a double bogey on the final hole. Rogers, Dinkel and Wohlfarth carded 76s, Elliott a 77 and Chen a 78. Moore posted an 89, eking into state thanks to staying within 10 strokes of the final individual qualifier from the regional (79).
Boulder will be sending a team to state for the first time since Rick Uhlir was still head coach in the 1990s. With longtime BHS head coach Jim Kozlowski on administrative leave, Uhlir is back with the team as an interim assistant coach for Disbrow.
“We’re a pretty close group so it’s nice to get to state as a team,” said Poorman, who wasn’t yet born the last time BHS qualified a full squad. For the record, none of Boulder’s state qualifiers is a senior; Dinkel and Moore are juniors, Rogers is a sophomore and Poorman a freshman.
Fairview, which won a state title in 2007, was hoping to advance a full team to state for the first time since ’08. But a bumpy finish by a couple of its players Friday kept that from happening.
“This is the (fourth) year in a row we really felt like we had a chance to get three guys to state and it hasn’t happened,” FHS coach Jay Capaul said. “We feel a little like the Chicago Cubs: Wait ’til next year.”
But Vacek and Wohlfarth will carry the Fairview torch as individuals at state. Vacek is happy to earn a return trip after having to sit out his sophomore year due to his transfer and failing to qualify last year.
“I knew this course pretty well so I thought I should qualify,” he said. “I knew I should play well here so I wasn’t worried. I’m happy.”
Wohlfarth is headed for state for the second straight year; he placed 36th last year.
“This was kind of a rough season, but I’m peaking now,” the junior said.
Like Vacek, Elliott and Dinkel are back at state after missing out last year.
“I was playing a lot better this year so it was more expected,” Elliott said. “I’m really excited to go. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Legacy’s Chen qualified for state as a freshman last year, holing a 35-foot putt in a regional playoff to advance, then finishing 32nd at the state meet. This year, he shot the same score at regionals as he did in 2011 (78), but he didn’t have to go extra holes to gain his state berth despite bogeying Nos. 17 and 18 on Friday.
“That’s the whole purpose: to qualify,” said Chen, who was paired with Dunkle, who shot the 66. “It doesn’t matter what you shoot. You’re here to qualify. I’m not here to get first place, I’m here to get in the top 20.”
5A NORTHERN REGIONAL GOLF
At Par-72 Mariana Butte GC in Loveland
Team scores (top two advance to state) — Douglas County 221; Boulder 225; Rock Canyon 228; Fairview 230; ThunderRidge 235; Fossil Ridge 235; Fort Collins 237; Highlands Ranch 240; Loveland 243; Castle View 244; Mountain Vista 245; Monarch 247; Legacy 247; Rocky Mountain 247; Greeley West 249; Poudre 252; Chaparral 253; Mountain Range 265; Legend 275; Horizon 281
State qualifiers — Kyler Dunkle, Douglas County, 66; Matt Vacek, Fairview, 72; Andrew Romano, Rock Canyon, 72; Alec Poorman, Boulder, 73; AJ Ott, Fort Collins, 75; Collin Tedesco, Douglas County, 75; Derek Denovellis, Greeley West, 75; Grant Rogers, Boulder, 76; Grant Dinkel, Boulder, 76; Kevin Wohlfarth, Fairview, 76; Evan Lewis, Mountain Range, 76; Austin Preiss, Fossil Ridge, 76; Jackson Elliott, Monarch, 77; Tyler Bricker, Fossil Ridge, 77; Josh Gardella, Rock Canyon, 77; Parker Cushing, Highlands Ranch, 77; Eric Chen, Legacy, 78; Quade Michell, ThunderRidge, 78; Jack Matchinsky, ThunderRidge, 78; Evan Buchaiski, Loveland, 79; Pete Kilbane, Mountain Vista, 79; Matt Dalton, Rock Canyon, 79; Trevor McCord, ThunderRidge, 79; Hunter Paugh, Fort Collins, 79; Cameron Berndt, Chaparral, 79; Bradley Willoughby, Douglas County, 80; Rio Moore, Boulder, 89; Dillon Loomis, Douglas County, 89.
Other Fairview scores — Jackson Vacek 82, David Sherwood 90.
Other Monarch scores — Alex Mautz 85, Cooper Taylor 85, Josh Hill 90.
Other Legacy scores — Spencer Roberts 82, Nick Hepp 87, Trevor Glen 94.