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  • Boulder senior Freddie Gluck tees off on the par-5 fifth...

    Brad Cochi /

    Boulder senior Freddie Gluck tees off on the par-5 fifth hole during the Loveland Invite on Thursday at The Olde Course at Loveland.

  • Mead's TJ Shehee watching his tee shot on the par-3...

    Brad Cochi /

    Mead's TJ Shehee watching his tee shot on the par-3 18th hole during the Loveland Invite on Thursday at The Olde Course at Loveland.



Forgive me for saying this, and I’ve been known to be wrong more than a time or two in the past, but I thought this would be a down year for boys golf in the area.

For the record, I thought we’d have some good golfers. It’s just that the players I’ve covered over the past several seasons have been so impressive that it was hard to imagine this fall approaching the bar those guys set.

Fairview’s Daniel Pearson, the 2016 Boys Golfer of the Year, tied for fourth in 5A last season. The 2015 Boys Golfer of the Year — Silver Creek’s Jackson Solem — won the 4A state title in 2015 and was a playoff away from winning a second last fall. Heck, the year before that Monarch’s Josh Hill was fourth in 5A, and Legacy’s Trevor Glen was fifth while teammate and two-time Boys Golfer of the Year Li Chen placed seventh. Then there was Boulder’s Grant Rogers, the 2014 Golfer of the Year who went on to play at Rice University.

Those are some big shoes to fill and I didn’t think it could be done.

Wrong again, Cochi.

So far, this year’s crop of fall golfers is fitting the bill. In fact, every time I open my inbox, this player from that school throws a ridiculous score right in my face like some haunting musical cat video e-card from my aunt Jeanne on my birthday. Whether I’m ready for it or not, there it is.

Let us recap.

Mead’s TJ Shehee played alongside Solem in this summer’s U.S. Junior Amateur, and we all figured he’d be pretty good. He’s carrying a 73.6 average with a season low of 69 while being scouted in person by the University of Colorado, so no surprises there. But a number of the area’s other players have already cemented themselves as players to recognize, if not potential state title contenders.

In the 3A Metro League alone, Peak to Peak’s Ethan Tartaglia carded a 68 at Indian Peaks to set a school record while teammates Ian Thorpe and Nishant Datta are under par in league play. Dawson’s Billy Howenstein, who tied for 10th at state last season, is also under par. Jefferson Academy’s Jacob Mason is averaging just over 74 strokes in league play, and he’s a sophomore.

Boulder’s Freddie Gluck keeps winning tournaments in a Front Range League that includes 5A team title contender Fossil Ridge. Breakout seasons from guys like Fairview sophomore Ryder Heuston and Legacy’s Grant Hoos have their FRL teams chasing Fossil Ridge in second and third place, respectively. Broomfield didn’t send a player to state last season but Adam Tilger is playing 70’s golf and looks like he could represent the Eagles on the top stage this fall.

Watch out for Niwot and Prospect Ridge, as well, since both teams return plenty of state-tournament experience. And while Mead’s new program has devastated several other local teams’ lineups, it has created an opportunity for an unprecedented number of young players to start logging varsity rounds ahead of schedule.

So, yeah, it’s 21 days into the 2017 boys golf season and it took exactly that long for our area guys to prove that I underestimated them.

Brad Cochi: or