LONGMONT – Typically when Hailey Schalk shows up at a high school golf tournament in Colorado, coaches and players all start calculating each of the other top golfers’ odds of finishing second.
Schalk’s arrival at Fox Hill Club for Monday’s 4A Region 3 tournament provoked the usual reaction.
But with a rough start, Holy Family’s two-time defending Class 3A state champion left Monday’s field a window for atypical optimism, even hope, of someone else leaving with the trophy. Well, for a while, at least.
The Tigers junior, who is single-handedly shaking up the 4A classification, triple-bogeyed No. 3 and was four over par through four holes. Though she was disappointed in her own performance, Schalk still found her way back into the final lead with a 6-over 78 on what proved to be a trying day for all of the 50-plus golfers hoping to qualify for state out of Region 3.
“It was all bad today,” Schalk said. “I was hitting it pretty well on the range so I felt good but it turned out to be a rough day. I think I hit three fairways today.
“I’m excited for state. State will be good and it’s almost here. Hopefully I’ll be better.”
It would be unwise to bet against Schalk returning to her usual state-champion form once the pressure is on at Pelican Lakes on May 20-21. She has, after all, won the past two 3A state titles by an average of 6.5 strokes, including an incredible 6-under performance at state last season, before she turned 17.
Schalk, who was 2-over on the back nine, never fell out of the regional title chase on Monday. Still, it was unexpectedly led by a pair of freshmen. Schalk’s teammate Jessica Mason battled Mead freshman Timbre Shehee for the lead for most of the day.
Equal parts of a four-way tie for runner-up, Mason was 8-over at the turn and shot even par on the back nine while Shehee, who led Mason at the turn, was 2-over on the back nine. Windsor’s Kinsey Smith and Jessica Zapf also tied for second place.
Both Mason and Shehee have been preceded by high-placing older brothers, and each appears poised to begin her turn to represent her surname at state this spring.
“I didn’t really know where Jessica was at but I knew we both had a good chance,” Shehee said. “I knew battling today would be fun, just feeling the pressure and stuff. Watching TJ (Shehee) go to state and watching what Hailey has done, that’s really pushed me and shown me what I can do if I continue to work hard. I can’t wait for state.
“Honestly, I started out pretty rough today. But my dad turned to me and was like, ‘Are you ready to play?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ I kind of turned it on after that and I got on a roll. I felt pretty good going into the back nine and even though I had a few mistakes, I played well.”
The top two teams and the 13 individuals not on either of those teams qualified for state on Monday. Defending state champion Windsor won the team title and Northern League champion Niwot finished second in the team scoring.
Niwot junior Julia Solem, the Northern League player of the year, carded an 82 to finish sixth overall. Another player preceded by an a talented older brother, Solem is eager for another shot at state after last year’s tournament played out with her struggling through the two worst rounds since her freshman season.
“It was rough today and I was a little disappointed in myself, this being my home course,” Solem said. “I didn’t play bad but I didn’t play good. None of my putts fell and it also felt that there wasn’t a lot more that I could have done. I’m so looking forward to state because last year was tough. I’m ready to do well there.”
While Niwot qualified a full team, Erie’s Madison Cantwell (t12th, 91), Skyline’s Lexi Ekern (16th, 97), Frederick’s Payton Wallace (t17th, 98) and Olivia Fauerbach (t17th, 98), and Erie’s Mara Wissman (t17th, 98) also qualified for state.
One member of a three-way playoff for the final state berth, Erie’s Kathleen Jennings will be the 4A state tournament’s first alternate out of Region 3.
Class 4A Region 3
At Fox Hill G.C., par 72
Team scores – Windsor 247, Niwot 260, Holy Family 263, Northridge 273, Erie 289, Mead 304, Roosevelt 330, Frederick 338, Skyline 342, Centaurus 370, Thompson Valley 374, Silver Creek 429.
Top individuals – 1. Hailey Schalk, Holy Family, 78; t2. Jessica Zapf, 80; t2. Jessica Mason, Holy Family, 80; t2. Kinsey Smith, Windsor, 80; t2. Timbre Shehee, 80; 6. Julia Solem, Niwot, 82; 7. Emma Sheaffer, Northridge, 84; 8. Lois Sheaffer, Northridge, 85; t9. Sydney Rothstein, Niwot, 87; t9. Brynn Ellis, Windsor, 87; t9. Sarah Johnson, Windsor, 87.
Other Holy Family results – t25. Brynn Hansen 105; t28. Taylor Fox 111.
Other Mead results – t30. Callie Pyle 112; t30. Emily Stewart 112; t33. Jodean Amen 120.
Other Niwot results – t12. Halie Ostrom 91; 14. Laure Bourgin 92.
Centaurus results – t33. Emma Caile 120; 36. Julia Mischke 122; t39. Masani Salazar 128; t46. Morgen Hoffmann 142.
Erie results – t23. Madison Cantwell 91; t17. Mara Wissman 98; t20. Kathleen Jennings 100; 27. Madison Martinez 108.
Frederick results – t17. Payton Wallace 98; t17. Olivia Fauerbach 98; t46. Jordan Rhodes 142.
Skyline results – 16. Lexi Ekern 97; t28. Michelle Tran 111; t42. Kimberly Patterson 134.
Silver Creek results – t39. Gabrielle Feneide 128; t44. Sophia Bennett 138; t48. Karly Pearson 163; t48. Elena Rodriguez 163.