COLORADO SPRINGS — Jefferson Academy’s Jennifer Kupcho was so tired of coming within one or two strokes of a state championship, she did everything she could to keep the rest of Colorado’s best Class 4A players well beyond arm’s length at the final meet of the 2014 season.
At the Country Club of Colorado on Monday and Tuesday, Kupcho fired a two-day combined score of 146. She finished 2-over par and 14 strokes ahead of the next closest golfer.
“It’s exciting because I missed it by a couple strokes last year and one stroke the year before that,” said Kupcho, who has verbally committed to Wake Forrest. “I’m really happy to finally get that state championship.”
In her freshman season in 2012, Kupcho finished third. She ended up one stroke out of an eventual playoff between Regis Jesuit’s Kathleen Kershinsnik and Pueblo South’s Bryce Schroeder.
In the 2013 Kupcho finished second, two strokes behind Montrose’s Kala Keltz.
More determined than ever, the Jaguars junior essentially needed just one day to win the 2014 title. Kupcho built a commanding 9-stroke lead on Day 1, shooting an even-par 72 while blustery conditions caused others’ scores to balloon. With a large cushion, Kupcho cruised to the title while making sure to play up to her own standards.
“All season my dad has been challenging me to shoot one under course rating, so I just kept going with that yesterday,” Kupcho said. “I tried to do that again today and it didn’t happen, which was OK. I was relaxed but I also had a lot of five-foot putts for par, so there was some pressure on those. You still want to do well and you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself on the second day and still win.”
For the tournament, Kupcho had just five bogeys. She had two birdies on Monday and one more on the par-5 fourth on Tuesday.
Valor Christian’s Andrea Ballou was second with a two-day 160.
Jaguars junior Mariah Ehrman shot a two-day 171 and finished in a four-way tie for ninth place. On Monday, she shot an 81 that put her in a tie for second with Ballou to start Tuesday’s final round.
At the end of a rough second day, Ehrman gave herself a shot at a top-five finish down the stretch run. She played even-par golf through the 15th, 16th and 17th before going in the water on the 18th and finished with a 90.
“It was a little rough today,” said Ehrman, who finished tied for 15th last season. “I had some good shot and I had some bad shots but I stuck with it and I started to pull through at the end and made a comeback. I definitely could have played but finishing tied for ninth place isn’t something to complain about.”
With two players in the top 10 returning next season, the Jaguars will continue to look for a third state qualifier who could put them in contention for a team title next season. Cheyenne Mountain won the 2014 team title with a three-player combined score of 520.
While the team title would be the next milestone, Jaguars head coach Mike Kupcho, Jennifer Kupcho’s father, said watching his daughter get what she wanted made this year a special one.
“That was obviously very gratifying to see her win,” Mike Kupcho said. “It was really about who dealt with the elements the best and she did a terrific job. She worked really hard and improved a lot this season. So did every person on the team. It’s fun to see when a player and a team want something that bad and are willing to go after it.”
Making her 4A state golf championships debut, two windy days at a challenging Country Club of Colorado provided a less-than-cordial introduction for Broomfield sophomore Hope Kim.
By the end of the two-day state tournament, Kim had found the lay of the land. Entering as the Eagles’ fourth golfer, she left Colorado Springs with her team’s lowest score.
“It turned out really well,” Kim said. “The wind kind of got to me at some points but I ended up hitting it pretty well and pretty straight. It was hard but I really enjoyed it. “
After an 18-over 90 on Monday, Kim carded a 91 on Tuesday to place in a tie for 22nd with a two-round score of 181.
One stroke ahead of Kim on Tuesday, senior teammate Carson Platnick tied for 33rd with combined score of 182. The Eagles’ best player on the greens all season, Platnick said she had a hard time reading the greens at Country Club of Colorado at the state tournament.
“I struggled with putting and that was mainly it,” Platnick said. “I was hitting the ball really well but my putting kind of ruined it for me. I played in state last year but then I was just kind of getting into golf. This year’s course was a lot harder but I played a lot better.”
In the team scoring, the Eagles finished sixth with a three-player combined score of 555. Cheyenne Mountain won the team championship with a score of 520 and Jefferson Academy’s Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title with a 2-over 146.
“They all hit the ball well pretty much all day but they struggled around the greens a little bit the last two days,” Ferraro said. “I was proud of them because they were down and not feeling very good after the first day but they came back, got together and played their hearts out.
“This is a hard course and there are some places out here you do not want to hit the ball. We spent a lot of time looking for balls and not just ours. Our girls in particular were surprised at how hard it was, how nervous they were and how well they were able to overcome that.”
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4A Girls State Golf Championships
At Country Club of Colorado, par-72
Team scores — Cheyenne Mountain 520, Montrose 535, Colorado Academy 537, Valor Christian 541, Estes Park 546, Broomfield 555, Durango 589, Pueablo East 604.
Top individuals — 1. Jennifer Kupcho, Jefferson Academy, 146; 2. Andrea Ballou, D’Evelyn, 160; 3. Emilee Strausburg, D’Evelyn, 162; 4. Courtney Ewing, Pueblo West, 164; 5. Kylee Sullivan, Cheyenne Mountain, 168; t-6. Kiselya Plewe, Dolores Huerta, 169; t6. Jordan Cherry, Montrose, 169; 8. Megan Vernon, Golden, 170; t-9. Leah Donnelly, Wheat Ridge, 171; t-9. Alex Trask, Bishop Machebeuf, 171; t-9. Tori Goodman, Falcon, 171; t-9. Mariah Ehrman, Jefferson Academy, 171.
Broomfield results — 32. Hope Kim, 181; t33. Carson Platnick, 182; t48 Maddie Kern, 193; t-54. Skylar George, 198.