GRAND JUNCTION — Jordan Sunset could not help herself Tuesday. Her emotions just got the better of her.
Given Fairview missed accomplishing a number of lofty team goals for the Class 5A state tournament, one might think the senior’s tears were over the game. But it was not golf tugging at Sunset’s heartstrings on the patio of Tiara Rado Golf Course. Instead it was her fellow golfers.
Knowing it was the last time she would play with fellow seniors Kelly Moran and Megan McCambridge was just a little much for the four-time state qualifier to handle.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “I’ve gotten to play with a really good team the past four years.”
The moment was all the more emotional given Fairview had been stymied from making a run to the top. The Knights finished sixth, but entered the two-day tournament aspiring to crack the upper echelons of the state.
It was a rocky first day that cost the team a shot at glory. But given the way the Knights closed out Tuesday, with steady and improved play, coach John Zerwin could not find too many reasons to complain.
“They did a lot better today, they came back like I always expect them to,” the Fairview coach said. “It’s a tough golf course. If you don’t hit it in the right spot it’s pretty hard to score.”
Moran more than learned her lesson from the difficulties Tiara Rado can present. The senior was her team’s top finisher, carding a 161 after 36 holes. The score was strong enough to put the William & Mary recruit on the cusp of the top 10, with Moran ultimately finishing 13th. But it required the senior to endure a jaw-clenching start to her second round.
The front nine was unkind to the Fairview ace with Moran carding a triple and two double bogeys to kick off her day. But she finished 9-over at the par-72 course, regrouping after the turn on the more wide-open back.
McCambridge and Sunset had the biggest improvements between their rounds. McCambridge shaved six strokes from her opening round, helping her to finish 23rd. And Sunset subtracted a whooping eight strokes from her score Monday, almost cracking the upper half of the tournament.
“My putting was better today, I made a lot more than yesterday,” Sunset said.
Given all the senior class has accomplished over the past season, Zerwin has his work cut out reforming his team. Moran, McCambridge, and Sunset were responsible for three Front Range League titles, two regional titles, and Fairview’s last three team qualifications for state.
To the coach, the seniors by no means were defined by their last tournament.
“It’s pretty impressive what that group of kids have done,” Zerwin said. “But most of all, they’re a great group of kids.”
Monarch’s Delaney Elliott had the rest of the golfers’ heads spinning with the way she opened her Class 5A state tournament. But the freshman’s above-par play faded in Tuesday’s second round.
The Monarch ace shot 14-over at the par-72 course on her final 18 holes to finish tied for 19th. For some freshmen the place would have been a feather in their cap. But Elliott had been in the running for a top 10 finish entering Tuesday, exiting the first round in seventh place.
“I just had a rough front nine,” she said. “And there was a lot of pressure.”
Elliott might have felt sucker-punched by her finish, but head coach Mike Riley did not believe it was anything she needed to lament. The coach pointed out that the Coyote had a strong first year of high school competition, averaging 78 for the season. And he believes Elliott has the tools to continue to grow into a strong competitor.
“She takes it that she can only get better from here,” Riley said. “She won’t lose her composure.”
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Class 5A state tournament
At Tiara Rado G.C., par 72
Team scores — Cherry Creek 470, Arapahoe 475; Regis 486, Legacy 502, Highlands Ranch 510, Fairview 515, Heritage 518, Rock Canyon 529, Dakota Ridge 527, Loveland 532, Columbine 643, Fossil Ridge 549, Grand Junction Central 559, Grand Junction 592.
Top 10 individuals — 1. Calli Ringsby, Cherry Creek, 146; 2. Jenni Chun, Highlands Ranch, 153; T3. Hannah Wood, Arapahoe 155; T3. Sarah Hankins, Legacy, 155; T3. Sydney Merchant, Dakota Ridge, 155; 6. Claudia Davis, Arapahoe, 156; T7. Sydney Gillespie, Regis Jesuit, 157; T7. Michelle Romano, Rock Canyon, 157; T9. Morgan Sahm, Grandview, 158; T9. Gillian Vance, Dakota Ridge, 158.
Other Legacy results — Jennifer Hankins 168; Morgan Hoos 191; Lisa From 179.
Boulder results — Aly Beeman 186.
Fairview results — Kelly Moran 161, Megan McCambridge 166, Jordan Sunset 188, Madison McCambridge 213.
Monarch results — Delaney Elliott 164.
Skyline results — Adara Pauluhn 167.