BOULDER – Ryder Heuston’s individual championship contention exploded in an instant but something special emerged from the wreckage.
Through the first 21 holes of the Class 5A state tournament at Pinehurst Country Club, the Fairview senior was tied for the lead. Then he took a 10 on the par-5 fourth hole and suddenly found himself five shots back and out of the running still with 14 holes to go on Day 2. Heuston, however, had more than one goal on that day and though it was difficult, he turned his attention towards salvaging what he could of his final high school round to help the Knights win a team championship.
It took a few holes for Heuston to fight off the disappointment, recollect himself, and get back to playing like the contender he knew himself to be.
With four holes left, teammate Ewan Albright grabbed Heuston as they crossed paths on neighboring holes and reminded him with a friendly scuff of his hair that the Knights’ four-senior lineup was only one stroke up in the team race. Heuston responded by shooting birdie, birdie, par, par, and tied for eighth individually at 6-over. The Knights won their first team championship since 2007, and did so by just three strokes largely because their season-long leader was able to swallow his pride and suck it up for the squad.
Heuston is the 2019 BoCoPreps.com boys golf player of the year.
“I went into that final round set on the goal that if I win individually, that would be enough for us to win the team title,” Heuston said. “I was struggling with the fact that I’d put myself out of it individually but my coach and my teammate stuck with me and kept me in it. My teammates picking me up and carrying me through that last round was really special because winning the state championship is something we’ll all remember forever.”
Sure, he had a rough day at state. But Heuston did plenty of winning in 2019.
Following an individual title in the talent-laden Front Range League, Heuston finished runner-up at regionals after losing a playoff with Rock Canyon’s Nick Fallin. He was second in 5A’s iWanamaker rankings and averaged 68.75 strokes per round in Front Range League play.
All of that almost didn’t happen, as Heuston was in a terrible skiing accident in December that nearly killed him and left his future in the sport he loves looking uncertain at best. He recovered fully, however, and just in time to lead the Knights on their championship campaign.
“Ryder was our rock the whole year,” Knights head coach John Zerwin said. “We could always count on him to be there and post a good score. I was so, so proud of him at state. When he realized he had lost his chance at the individual title, he hung in there and played so well for the team. That’s something he probably wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago but he’s matured so much with everything he’s been through and we were lucky to have him.
“All our guys, Ryder, Ewan, Will (Chadwick), and Brett (Reamon) played incredibly well at state and we won the trophy we’ve been chasing for a couple years. And Ryder was the glue that held it all together.”
At the state tournament, Chadwick led the Knights by tying for third place at 4-over. Reamon was seventh at 7-over and Albright tied for 50th at 20-over.