Girls golf: JA’s Kupcho battles elements to capture Poudre Invite

TIMNATH — It is scary to think what Jennifer Kupcho might do when she puts it all together on one day on the golf course.

The Jefferson Academy junior, like most golfers, never seems quite satisfied when she walks off the course, always with that lingering thought in the back of her head of what she could have done differently to pick up a shot here or there.

On Thursday at The Harmony Club — a golf course unlike any other the field will see this year — Kupcho fired a 1-under par 71 in the adverse conditions to beat playing partner Samantha Barker of Highlands Ranch by one shot to win the Poudre Invitational.

“The conditions were hard, but everybody is playing in the same thing,” Kupcho said. “The weather doesn’t really matter, you are playing against the field.”

After starting on No. 18, Kupcho made the turn and so to did the weather. The precipitation, which has avoided the Fort Collins area overnight, blasted the the field with driving snow that was both uncomfortable and not much fun.

Kupcho was playing the par-4 4th hole at the time, and coincidentally it was the only hiccup on an otherwise flawless card. Playing directly into the wind (and snow), she suffered a double bogey on the 319-yard hole.

Kupcho made the turn with an even par 36, making up for the double with birdies at the first and eighth holes. Kupcho, a big hitter off the tee, was able to capitalize on the shorter par-4s and funnel-style targets —- something that is a staple course designer Jim Engh layouts, taking chances even with the inclement weather.

“These courses are a lot of fun, even though I didn’t have a yardage book to go off of,” said Kupcho. “So a lot of of was just memory, and thankfully I remembered.”

A couple of three-putt bogeys coming home cost her, but Kupcho covered those up with birdies on No. 13, 14 and 16 and should have had another on her final hole — the 17th — but missed a five-foot swinger.

Even in the crummy conditions, it was a welcome break for Kupcho to get away from the monotony of the nine-hole Metro League tournaments.

“My mindset is more more geared for 18 holes, because if I make a bogey somewhere on the front nine, I know I have 18 holes to make it up,” said Kupcho, who was a little inconsistent off the tee on Thursday and only hit five of 13 fairways all day. “I didn’t really hit any balls yesterday, and usually I don’t play well the next day if I haven’t hit in a while.

“I though it was going to be a little bit warmer (this morning), so I could hit a few more balls and get my swing back in shape.”

All in all it was a great day at Harmony for both Jaguars golfers that teed it up. Mariah Ehrman played a fantastic round and joined Kupcho as one of the other four golfers to break 80, firing an impressive 5-over 77 to finish third.

Legacy came to the tournament without senior Sarah Hankins, who was nursing an illness. Andrea Hoos carried the flag for the Lightning, shooting an 11-over 83 and finishing tied for sixth.

Fellow sophomore Jennifer Hankins never could get in a rhythm on the gigantic undulating Harmony Club greens and shot an 85. Maddy Rodriguez (99) and Izzy Hebert (126) rounded out the Legacy foursome.

It was a long day for coach John Ferraro’s Broomfield Eagles. Playing without some of their top players, none of the Eagles on hand found a way to break 100 in the blustery conditions. Brenna Fankell, Lauren Stabb and Skylar George all shot 102 and Rachel McCormick came home in 127.

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At The Harmony Club

Team scores — Fossil Ridge 247, Estes Park 260, Boulder 264, Legacy 267, Highlands Ranch 268, Fairview 278, Loveland 289, Rock Canyon 294, Greeley Unified 300, Broomfield 306, Evergreen 308, Poudre 322, Brush 357.

Top individuals — 1. Jennifer Kupcho, Jefferson Academy, 71; 2. Samantha Barker, Highlands Ranch, 72; 3. Mariah Ehrman, Jefferson Academy, 77; 4. Kenzie Hueter, Fossil Ridge, 78; 5. Madison McCambridge, Fairview 81; 6. Katie Larson, Fossil Ridge 83; 6. Aly Beeman, Boulder, 83; 6. Andrea Hoos, Legacy 83; 6. Sammy Geisick, Greeley 83.

Boulder results — Alex Jaros 88; Danielle Picard 93; Leah Perletz 94.

Other Fairview results — Taylor Sunset 87; Isabel Waterbury 110; Colleen Blaine 128.

Legacy results — Jennifer Hankins 85; Maddy Rodriguez 99; Izzy Hebert 126.

Broomfield results — Brenna Fankell 102; Lauren Stabb 102; Skylar George 102; Rachel McCormick 127.