MEAD — Being ready for anything is part of what makes TJ Shehee one of the top prep golfers in Colorado.
What Shehee couldn’t have prepared for, however, was that he would be playing his junior campaign for the new program at his home school of Mead after spending his first two prep seasons as a member of the Silver Creek boys golf team. It will be a difficult adjustment for Shehee, at least at first, while he tries to build towards and eventual state championship.
There are positives to playing for the new Mead program, too.
“I’ll miss my Silver Creek coach Ryan Williams and my friends but I’m happy to play for Mead right now because I really want to represent my school,” Shehee said. “I’m also happy because I’ll get to play with my friends at Mead who have been playing for different schools, too. It’s nice that we’ll all be able to play together for the same team. We should be pretty good, too.”
As a sophomore last year, Shehee tied for 24th place at the Class 4A state championships. He finished the 2015 season in a tie for 24th place, as well.
A bit frustrated at not realizing a more significant improvement at the end of his sophomore season, Shehee stepped up his preseason preparation this summer. He finished top five in several in-state tournaments, played in the Optimist International Junior Championships and qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur alongside former Silver Creek state champion and current University of Denver golfer Jackson Solem.
Shehee said he didn’t play his best in either tournament but gained a lot of knowledge about his game and where he can improve by the time the state tournament rolls around on Oct. 2-3 at Raccoon Creek Golf Course. Though he is no longer a Silver Creek player, Shehee said he will spend his first season in a Mavericks uniform trying to emulate the things that led to success for Solem, who won the 4A state title in 2015.
“My ultimate goal is to win a state championship,” Shehee said. “I want to follow in the footsteps of Jackson. Raccoon Creek is a course that suits me so I’ll definitely keep working towards that. I’ve worked really hard and I think my overall game, from putting to switching up my swing a bit to get more distance on my drive, has improved. More than anything, I think my mental game is stronger and that should make the biggest difference.”
Prior to this season, Mead students wanting to play high school golf were allowed to play for other programs like Silver Creek, Erie and Skyline. Now that Mead has started its own program, players like Kellen Kudrna (Erie) and Michael Silbernagle (Skyline) are required to play for their home school.
“We’re lucky to have enough good golfers going to Mead that we’re starting a team with a number of guys who have been playing for years,” first-year Mavericks head coach Michael Ward said. “We got 15 kids out at practice on the first day and we’re excited to have these guys here representing their school, rather than wearing another logo on their chest. I think they’re taking a lot of pride in that, too.”