Holy Family senior Jackson Grace didn’t sound like someone who’d just locked in his place at the state tournament.
The Tigers’ No. 1 golfer had shot well enough to contend at the 3A Region 4 tournament up in Carbondale Tuesday — his third-place finish easily good enough for a spot at the state tournament. But by phone Friday morning, his voice filled with some guilt, or maybe just ‘what could have been’, as he was left wondering what more he could’ve done to help his team qualify for a state spot of its own.
“As a senior this year and being the leader of these guys, I really put it on myself,” said Grace as the Tigers finished fifth overall, six shots back of qualifying. “I feel like we were running out of opportunities and we knew that. And the guys this year had never been to regionals or state. And so, I put it on myself to be the leader, as being the only member of the team who has been to state, to calm the nerves of the guys.”
Want vs. reality often differ, though. And perhaps no truer than in a sport so giveth of frustration and ache.
Holy Family, tasked with a four-hour car journey to get to its mountain regional, pressed further through elevated and windy conditions, and even lightning delays. Grace shot a 4-over 76, three shots back of leader Nic Pevny of Aspen. Teammate Rudiger Heitz made the cut, too, carding an 85.
Now, they must turn the page before the 3A tournament in Gunnison Oct. 5-6.
“I have a different outlook on the game now,” said Grace, who described how a debilitating slipped disc in his back nearly kept him out of golf this season. “Going from thinking about quitting and never playing again, to being back now — I think I have a chance to do something special at the state tournament.”
State spots included two teams and 13 other individuals out of each regional tournament, per the CHSAA bulletin. For the full breakout of regional results, check iWanamaker.com.
An official list of state tournament qualifiers and their tee times should be released by CHSAA soon.
Here are some other high finishes from the area:
From the 5A Central regional, Broomfield’s Sawyer Hyten shot a 4-over 76. The sophomore got out of a mini slump to take 11th, while senior teammate Ben Reifschneider (79) also qualified in 19th.
The first state nod for Hyten, the last for Reifschneider, they will both head to the 5A state tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in just over a week.
“I want to go out there and play my best game obviously,” Hyten said. “But I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself being that it is my first time at state. I’m just going to go out there, play my game and see what happens.”
Elsewhere in 5A, Legacy’s Tommy Hammond (2-over 74) sizzled in tying for third at the Northern regional in Westminster, while teammate Deven Sehr (77) tied for 12th.
Fairview’s Sam Knowlton, meanwhile, finished 6-over 78 at the Western regional in Littleton … Knights’ teammate Trey Harman and Boulder’s Luke Blankinship and Jack Dooley tied for 21st with a score of 80.
And at the Southern regional, Monarch’s Jackson Harberts shot a 6-over 78 as the Coyotes finished fourth as a team. Caleb Michaels added an 80 and Ian Henderson shot an 82.
Down a classification, Silver Creek’s Ben Harding continued his impressive sophomore season as he tied for second at 4A Region 3 in Fort Morgan. He shot 2-over 74 and was followed inside the top 10 by Niwot’s Christopher Gunlikson (75) and Frederick’s Jake Chesler (76). Longmont’s Adam Gannon (79), Silver Creek’s Josh Lurie (79) and Centaurus’ Ryan Vaver (80) were inside the top 15.
The 4A tournament is at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
At the 3A Region 2 tournament in Aurora, Dawson’s Tommy Noonan finished tied for sixth (7-over 79). He was followed by Peak to Peak’s William Mitchell (84) and Adi Malhotra (85) as well as Prospect Ridge Academy’s Jason Arbuckle (86).
Prospect Ridge’s Caden Koole, meanwhile, shot an 89, and Peak to Peak’s Rasesh Bhandari had an 89. Both finished inside the top 20.
And at 3A Region 3 in Greeley, Jefferson Academy’s Jack McLucas and Ethan Runyon each shot 12-over 84 to tie for 18th.