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Boys golf: Silver Creek impresses as Ben Harding wins Windsor tournament

Harding shoots a 2-over 74 for the victory at Pelican Lakes Golf Club

WINDSOR — Silver Creek’s Ben Harding reacts after a shot onto the green at Pelican Lakes Golf Club on Wednesday Sept. 16, 2020 (Photo By Brent W. New)
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WINDSOR — The golf season has sped by Silver Creek’s first-year coach Tyler Bishop, leaving nothing but a blur.

The effort required in taking over a high school program is strenuous enough without a pandemic overhead. And the time needed to prepare, to build, adheres to a corset-tight schedule that’s been pulled to near suffocation with the 2020 fall season further shortened.

But with constraint, Bishop and the Raptors are flourishing.

Wednesday, Bishop — who took over the school’s golf program a week before the season after former coach Bill Kipp stepped down — saw his new team take another promising step forward at the final Northern Colorado Athletic Conference tournament. Shining sophomore, Ben Harding, shot a 2-over 74 to win at the Pelican Lakes Golf Club and the Raptors finished runner-up to Windsor in the final conference standings.

With regionals next week, there will be time to reflect later.

“This season has felt very fast and blurry with all these crazy COVID regulations and school regulations for testing. Like, it’s almost felt rushed,” Bishop said. “We haven’t had enough time in practice and not enough time in tournaments. It’s not a normal season.”

But it’s been a strong one, nonetheless.

Like all teams, the Raptors were forced to adapt on the fly this fall. CHSAA greenlit the sport in late July. Official practice then started the first week of August.

Harding, who took 35th at the Class 4A golf tournament as a freshman, came out strong in his second year and won the first NCAC tournament in Greeley last month. Then after some up-and-down play over the next four conference tournaments, he won again up in Windsor as his team finished second in the tournament to the Wizards.

The sophomore had three birdies over his first eight holes and was even through nine. His finish wasn’t as strong, but it was enough to hold off Erie’s Braden Caffarelli.

“I started off pretty good,” Harding said. “This is kind of the same thing I did here last time. This time I was able to hold on better. I’ve been trying to learn when I get under par, keep it there and keep it going. Just stay engaged and never let up.”

Caffarelli made a strong push up the leaderboard after starting 5-over par through his first five holes.

The senior turned it around after a quick conversation with his coach, Brandon Bird. And from there, he shot 1-under over his next 13 holes and had three birdies — including one on his third-to-last hole that got him within two of the lead. He then parred out to finish second.

“I just mentioned to him that this was his last league tournament of his career,” Bird said. “So, no matter what, you need to have fun out here. It’s your last one. And that was the last time I saw him today because he started playing well, so I stayed away from him so he didn’t get nervous.”

Added Caffarelli: “The first couple holes, my game plan was not working … I knew I couldn’t go out like this. I’ve playing too good and practicing too good to shoot 80-plus in my last league tournament.”

Windsor’s Brentyn Paiz wrapped up the individual NCAC title with a 78 Tuesday. He shot in the 70s in five league tournaments this fall and 69 in the other.

The NCAC teams now ready themselves for regionals. Centaurus, Erie, Longmont, Mead, Silver Creek and Skyline are at Quail Dunes in Fort Morgan for 4A Region 3. Holy Family is at 3A Region 4 at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale.