DENVER — The opportunities to eliminate strokes are there. The Jefferson Academy girls golf team is still working on making it happen.
Starting out in an eight-stroke hole trailing Colorado Academy at the final 4A Metro League tournament on Wednesday, the Jefferson Academy girls were faced with the tough but doable task of beating Colorado Academy by eight or more. With defending state champion Jennifer Kupcho winning the tournament with a 2-under 34 on the West 9 at John F. Kennedy Golf Course in Denver, Jefferson Academy won the tournament. But not by enough.
Winning the individual title and the final league tournament, Jefferson Academy finished second in the regular season league standings, five strokes behind the more balanced Colorado Academy.
“We were in an eight-stroke hole but realistically each one of the three girls we scored left about three strokes out there,” Jefferson Academy head coach Mike Kupcho said. “So, that’s nine strokes and we lost by five. That’s what we’re focusing one moving towards the regional, though, is to get those three to reach their goals. The strokes were there.”
Jennifer Kupcho and Jefferson Academy may not have accomplished their goals on Kennedy on Wednesday, but the larger picture remains the 4A state tournament at River Valley Ranch on Carbondale, Colo., on May 18-19. For Jennifer Kupcho in particular, that means defending her title.
In 2014, Jennifer Kupcho ran away with the 4A state title at Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Last year, Kupcho won with un-approached consistency, which she is working to recreate now.
On Wednesday at Kennedy, Kupcho was brilliant to start but could not keep up the pace. She eagled the par-5 first hole and was 3-under through the third, but shot 1-over on the final six holes. Still, it was good enough to build a five-stroke lead over teammate Mariah Ehrman, who took second with a 3-over 39 after also shooting eagle on the par-5 first hole.
“I wasn’t too happy with it,” Jennifer Kupcho said. “I started great but I kind of lost it. This year is going to be harder. It’s always harder to repeat. Hopefully we can do better as a team at regionals and get a team to state. There are three other teams that all have almost the same averages as us so we’re going to have to be good.”
Though both Kupcho and Ehrman finished in the top 10 at last year’s state tournament, Jefferson Academy did not qualify enough players to be eligible for the team scoring. The goal this season is leave the state tournament with at least a team score. The way the regional qualifying is set up, the best way Jefferson Academy can do that is to win the regional.
Based on the player averages that each team is required to submit before regionals, Mike Kupcho calculated the top four teams’ averages — Colorado Acadmey 258, D’Evelyn 259, Valor Christian 260, Jefferson Academy 260.
“Talk about a four-school horse race,” Mike Kupcho said.
Also for Jefferson Academy on Wednesday, Emily Grantham placed 11th with a 14-over 50. Maya Gordon, who birdied the par-3 fourth, was 15th with a 52 and Bekkah Whithouse was 22nd with a 58.
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Metro League Golf Tournament
At Kennedy G.C.
Team scores — Jefferson Academy 125, Colorado Academy 128, Kent Denver 150, Peak to Peak 153, Bishop Machebeuf 159, St. Mary’s Academy 161, Lutheran 174.
Top individuals — 1. Jennifer, Kupcho, Jefferson Academy, 34; 2. Mariah Ehrman, Jefferson Academy, 39; 3. Cassie Kneen, Colorado Academy, 40; 4. Trinity Goderstad, Colorado Academy, 43; 5. Sarah Street, Colorado Academy, 45; 6. Larissa Roberts, Machebeuf, 46; 7. Sadie Mauger, Kent Denver, 47; 8. Marin Halvorsen, Kent Denver, 47; t9. Kacey Godwin, Colorado Academy, 48; t9. Emily Long, Peak to Peak, 48.
Other Jefferson Academy results — t11. Emily Grantham 50; t15. Maya Gordon 52; t22. Bekkah Withouse 58 .
Other Peak to Peak results — t15. Samantha Pursley 52; t17. Kenayde Lampros 53; t29. Vienna DeFalco 66.