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Boys golf: Fairview’s Heuston back from the brink and shooting for state title

Knights senior made miraculous recovery following life-threatening skiing accident

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Fairview High School's Ryder Heuston poses for a portrait holding his broken skiing helmet at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2018, Heuston suffered two broken vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident that almost killed him.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Fairview High School's Ryder Heuston poses for a portrait holding his broken skiing helmet at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2018, Heuston suffered two broken vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident that almost killed him.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Fairview High School's Ryder Heuston poses for a portrait holding his broken skiing helmet at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2018, Heuston suffered two broken vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident that almost killed him.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Fairview High School's Ryder Heuston poses for a portrait holding his broken skiing helmet at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2018, Heuston suffered two broken vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident that almost killed him.

  • Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer

    Fairview High School's Ryder Heuston poses for a portrait holding his broken skiing helmet at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2018, Heuston suffered two broken vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident that almost killed him.

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BOULDER – None of what Ryder Heuston has done this fall was supposed to be possible.

On Dec. 23, the Fairview senior was in a terrible skiing accident that Flight For Life believed should have killed him. Heuston hit a rock head on with such an impact that it compacted his spine and left the young man with compression fractures to vertebrae C6, C7 and C8 in his back. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury and needed facial reconstruction surgery for basically every bone in his face except for his jaw.

Fairview High School's Ryder Heuston poses ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Fairview High School’s Ryder Heuston poses for a portrait holding his broken skiing helmet at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2018, Heuston suffered two broken vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident that almost killed him.

Many thought he wouldn’t live, and several doctors told him he certainly wouldn’t be playing golf any time soon, but Heuston pulled through and made a rather miraculous full recovery following what seemed like a lifetime of physical therapy to relearn how to walk and remember the details of his life before the accident. After a long and arduous road back to health, Heuston will compete for a Class 5A boys golf state championship on Monday and Tuesday.

“My coach and I talked about it a few days ago and if this hadn’t happened to me, I wouldn’t be the player or the person I am today,” Heuston said. “Every day I stumbled out of bed, every day I fell out of my wheelchair, it taught me to bounce back. When I hit a bad shot before, it was such a punch in the gut. Now a bad golf shot doesn’t seem like such a big deal because I’m out here doing something I love.”

With Heuston’s return to the sport he loves, so returns one of the top contenders for the individual crown in Colorado’s biggest classification. And the Knights get back their top golfer with a chance to win the team championship.

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Fairview High School’s Ryder Heuston poses for a portrait holding his broken skiing helmet at Flatirons Golf Course in Boulder on Oct. 1, 2019. On Dec. 23, 2018, Heuston suffered two broken vertebrae and a traumatic brain injury in a skiing accident that almost killed him.

As a sophomore in 2017, Heuston tied for sixth place at state. As a junior, he tied for seventh. This fall, Heuston averaged 69.6 strokes per conference round on his way to a Front Range League title. Two weeks after shooting a 62 at Legacy Ridge, Heuston finished runner-up at the Western Regional and will head to state with a ton of momentum on his side.

“Ryder has been through a lot of forced maturation,” Fairview head coach John Zerwin said. “We thought we lost him but he battled his way back and right now he’s playing the best golf of his life. He’s our guy and we wouldn’t want anyone else leading us into state next week.”

Joining Heuston at state, William Chadwick, Ewan Albright and Brett Reamon all shot 76’s at regionals and give the Knights a full team of golfers for the state championships at Pinehurst Country Club on Monday and Tuesday.

For Heuston, the state championships will be one final shot at a state title after having come close twice before. It’s a shot that 10 months ago he and everyone else in his life never thought he’d get to shoot.

“Every since sophomore year when I tied for sixth and realized I could compete with these guys, winning state has been my goal,” Heuston said. “It would be amazing to be able to call myself a state champion. But I’ve made friends in the hospital who will never walk again. I have an incredible group of people supporting me from my parents, my friends, girlfriend, doctors coaches and teammates.

“I’ve had to grow up a lot in a short amount of time. Sometimes I feel like I’m a 30-year-old walking around in a 17-year-old’s body. Now I approach everything with the idea that I’m determined to make everyone proud that the fought for me. Golf is just a game and state is just a tournament. But I’m going to do the best I can because that’s what I do now.”