AURORA — As much as the Monarch golf team wanted to be a contender at the 5A boys state high school tournament, the Coyotes took baby steps rather than leaps and bounds Monday and Tuesday at Murphy Creek Golf Course.
Under the circumstances, that was understandable. After all, MHS was competing at state as a team for the first time since 2002. And the Coyotes were one of just five teams out of the 15 on hand that were playing with only three players instead of four.
And when the best three scores from each school count toward the team total, that’s no small matter.
In any case, in their first foray into the team race at state in 11 years, the Coyotes finished 14th. Without the luxury of being able to throw out a score, Monarch posted a 59-over-par 491 total. Regis Jesuit won its fourth consecutive 5A title, this time with a 7-under 425 tally.
“Since it’s the first time we’ve been here since 2002, we felt pretty good about being here,” MHS coach Mike Riley said. “It gave them a lot of experience. That’s what I was hoping for. … They all could have played better, but they could have played a lot worse too.”
Despite being happy about qualifying a team for state, the Coyotes admittedly weren’t at their best at Murphy Creek. Of the six individual rounds they posted, only two were in the 70s.
“My kids had real high expectations of what their play should be because we were playing very well at the end of the season,” Riley noted.
At state, junior Josh Hill posted the best two-day total for Monarch thanks to rebounding from a first-round 85 to shoot a 4-over-par 76 on Tuesday. That gave him a 55th-place finish. Fellow junior Cooper Taylor (162) was 59th, while senior Alex Mautz (168) was 68th.
“Shaving off nine strokes in one round isn’t too shabby,” said Hill, who was making his state debut. “I’m pretty happy with that. I started off pretty bad (Monday) and my confidence was low. To come back out (Tuesday) and shoot a nice 76 makes it a little sweeter.”
Getting state experience could prove invaluable down the road for Monarch.
“I played pretty well the first day,” Taylor said. “(Tuesday) I guess I choked a little bit. I think if I come back next year I should play pretty well.”
In short, the Coyotes don’t expect it to be 2024 before they qualify their next team for state.
“Hopefully we come back and repeat more than once every 11 years,” Riley said.
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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.