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Boys golf: Legacy’s Chen nabs second straight 5A runner-up finish

Legacy's Li Chen waves to the crown after his final shot at the 2013 5A state golf tournament. Chen finished in a tie for second for the second year in a row.
Erin Hull
Legacy’s Li Chen waves to the crown after his final shot at the 2013 5A state golf tournament. Chen finished in a tie for second for the second year in a row.

AURORA — Steve Ziegler accomplished a rare feat when he won back-to-back 5A state individual golf titles in 2005 and 2006, but even back when he was leading the way for Legacy, the Lightning didn’t accomplish what it did this week.

On Tuesday at Murphy Creek Golf Course, LHS posted its best finish ever in the boys state high school tournament by placing fourth in the 15-team field.

“If you had told me at the beginning of the year that we’d be fourth or fifth, I would be happy with that,” coach Bobby Ortega said. “I’m very pleased.”

With junior Li Chen setting the pace, the Lightning posted a 23-over-par 455 total for two days, leaving LHS behind only Regis Jesuit (the winner of four straight 5A titles, which came in at 425), Ralston Valley (448) and Cherry Creek (450).

And for the second straight season, Chen finished as the individual runner-up at the 5A state tournament. Though he didn’t win a high school meet this year, Chen gave champion Spencer Painton of Regis all he wanted before ending up two strokes behind, along with Regis’ Jake Kelley.

Chen followed up his stellar opening round of 67 with a 73, leaving him at 4-under-par 140.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “I could play much better (than I did) today. I didn’t play as well as yesterday. I shot an (over par) number, not an (under-par) number. The first day was great for me, the second day could be better. That’s all I can say about it.”

Chen was 2 under par through six holes of the second round and was tied for the individual lead with Painton. But Painton carded three straight birdies starting on hole 6, and Chen bogeyed his final two holes of the front nine. That meant that in the course of three holes (7-9), Chen went from all square with Painton to four behind. And he was never able to make up the deficit on the back nine.

“He’s always said he wanted to tie what Steve has done — being a two-time state champion — and he put himself in position today,” Ortega said of Chen. “Obviously he would have liked to have won, but he put himself in position to try and win.”

Senior Spencer Roberts went 77-78 to finish 31st for Legacy, while Trevor Glen (81-79) was 47th and Zach Moritz (82-89) 74th.

“Fourth place is pretty solid” for the team, Roberts said. “There are a lot of good teams out here. That’s what we deserve for our preparation and everything.”

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Class 5A state tournament

At Murphy Creek G.C., par 72

Team scores — Regis Jesuit 425, Ralston Valley 448, Cherry Creek 450, Legacy 455, Heritage 456, Fairview 456, Boulder 459, Grand Junction 459, Arapahoe 461, Columbine 471, Fort Collins 473, Douglas County 478, Fossil Ridge 479, Monarch 491, Loveland 502.

Top 10 individuals — 1. Spencer Painton, Regis Jesuit, 138; t-2. Jake Kelley, Regis Jesuit, 140; t-2. Li Chen, Legacy, 140; t-4. Grant Rogers Boulder, 145, t-4. Devyn Solano, Grandview, 145; 6. A.J. Ott, Fort Collins, 146; t-7. Troy Dangler, Fruita Monument, 147; t-7. Chris Korte, Regis Jesuit, 147; t-7. Donny Kinnaman, Grand Junction, 147; t-10. Hunter Lee, Heritage, 148; t-10. Neil Tillman, Ralston Valley, 148; t-10. Sam Marley, Arapahoe, 148; t-10. Kobe Padilla, Cherry Creek, 148.

Other Legacy results — Spencer Roberts 155; Trevor Glen 160; Zach Moritz 171.

Fairview results — Kevin Wohlfarth 150; Daniel Pearson 157; Jackson Vacek 158; Cason McHose 160.

Boulder results — Grant Dinkel 155; Alec Poorman 159; Leo Huettel 172.

Monarch results — Josh Hill 161; Cooper Taylor 162; Alex Mautz 168.

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