Much of the drama around Hadley Ashton’s one-stroke lead coming into the final day of the Class 4A state tournament Wednesday dissipated with a stretch of three birdies over six holes.
Guided by a professional approach beyond her years at the Tiara Rado Golf Course in Grand Junction, the already decorated freshman golfer and the young team from Erie she so coolly led didn’t waver with the field in chase on Day 2.
Because of it, their 4 1/2 hour drive home would be accompanied with some new hardware for the school’s trophy case.
“The very first team meeting of the year it was too cold to go to the course and practice and there was snow covering it, so we met in a classroom,” Erie coach Brandon Bird said. “And I took them down to our trophy case and showed them the state championship trophies from cheer and softball and poms and said, ‘Hey, we can do this. It’s up to you girls how much time you want to put in.’ And they put in the work and the effort and here we are.”
Ashton cruised to an individual title with four birdies on the second day, following up her Day 1 score of 3-over-par 74 with a 73.
Even after a pair of double bogeys on the back side, the freshman comfortably held off Mullen’s Sofia Choi by four strokes as the Tigers kept off the Mustangs by 14 shots in the team race.
“I think it’s cool because it’s not just for me this time, but the whole community and the school and everybody involved,” said Ashton, who came into high school as a celebrated golfer with a number of big-time tournament wins. “It’s definitely more special in that way.”
Scoring elsewhere for Erie, sophomore Logan Hale tied for seventh with a two-day score of 14-over 156 and fellow classmate Kait Park tied for 17th at 177. Junior Sydney O’Connor was 63rd at 213.
And while they were the lone local state champs of the day, three other area players medaled inside their respective tournaments.
Mead’s Timbre Shehee finished her stout high school career with a third-place finish in Grand Junction. The Northern Colorado commit shot a 78 and 76 over the two days, knocking down a pair of birdies on her final back half to secure the second top-10 state finish of her career.
At Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield, meanwhile, Peak to Peak’s Noelle Thompson finished runner-up in the 3A tournament. The junior’s score of 1-over-par 73 proved the second-best round of the day, only trumped by St. Mary’s Academy’s winner Maddy Bante’s 71.
She impressed onlookers with a run of three birdies over five holes on her back-nine, knocking down putts ranging 25 feet and further on what were soaked greens from overnight rains.
“I was shooting like 120 and getting last place in all these tournaments as a freshman,” said Thompson, looking back on her journey.
She said she used the COVID shutdown as a chance to practice her craft tirelessly. She finished 13th at state as a sophomore and was four shots off the win as a junior. “I’m just so proud of how far I’ve come.”
Prospect Ridge’s Hope Torres finished behind Thompson in the 3A field, placing fourth while leading her team to a runner-up finish to St. Mary’s Academy. It was a monumental finish for the second-year program.
“The girls on the team are awesome and they work so hard,” Prospect Ridge coach Monica Henrichs said. “They did so well last year but felt like fish out of water last year because it was a new environment. But this year they had a new focus and were just excited to play.”
In the 5A tournament at the Olde Course at Loveland, Fairview’s Ava Hickey finished 16th with a Day 2 score of 11-over 83. Legacy’s Ayla Milan was 23rd and Broomfield’s Hampton Traylor 29th.
Other top 30 local finishers included Niwot’s Alena Kasanicky (11th) and Sydney Rothstein (15th), Centaurus’ Julia Love (23rd), and Longmont’s JuliAnne Herrmann (29th) in 4A. Prospect Ridge had all its golfers inside it in 3A, with Erin Choi taking 16th and Kate Dinges and Leyni Stavola 27th. And Jefferson Academy’s Samantha Duncan was 16th.
Niwot finished fifth as a team in 4A, Holy Family 11th. The Pumas were fourth in 3A, while Broomfield was 14th in 5A, and Legacy was 15th.