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Girls golf: Erie’s Hadley Ashton is golfer of the year

Erie High School golfer Hadley Ashton ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
After winning the Class 4A state girls golf individual championship, Erie’s Hadley Ashton has been named the girls golfer of the year.

It was three years ago when the spellbinding thought of possibility sent the mind racing. Erie coach Brandon Bird said he was heading out of team practice at the Colorado National Golf Club when he witnessed what would become his program’s most accomplished player after just a single season.

As the coach and voice of Tigers athletics remembers, freshman Hadley Ashton was in the sixth grade at the time, working on a chip far too pristine for her age. There, somewhere among the cut blades of grass, one of his players informed him that the small kid with pillowy touch was in the high school’s feeder.

He’d wait.

“I had always kind of assumed since Hailey Schalk was her mentor that she would end up at Holy Family,” Bird said with a laugh. “I just held my breath until the first day of school started this past year. And when she walked through those doors, I was pretty pumped.”

That sight transformed into a series of firsts for the Erie girls golf program this past spring: an individual and team champ were crowned.

Ashton, the runaway pick for the golfer of the year, said she’d leaned on her coach’s words to calm herself during the opening round of her first state tournament. Her own personal critiques of her play aside, she then glided to a four-stroke victory at the Tiara Rado Golf Course in Grand Junction.

The team won, too — a dominating 14-stroke win over the field — as Ashton was followed into the clubhouse by seventh-place Logan Hale and Kait Park in 17th.

“I’m excited to come back for the next three years,” Ashton said by phone while playing in a tournament in Arkansas. “I think it’s just being able to play for a team and play for something more than just individually. And I’ve grown way more as a player.”

For fans of Erie, the sentiment might have well been a serenade back on the 18th green in Grand Junction.

But the 14-year-old is too busy for that. Golf has her out of the state for most of the summer.

After her state win earlier in the month, the freshman played in the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior five days later and won the prestigious tournament thanks to two birdies over her final six holes.

“I really wasn’t trying to win the last day and was really just trying to play par golf and place top three,” Ashton said. “But it came down to the last hole and I parred it after bogeying it the first two days. And I won, so that was really special.”

It was the latest round of success for Ashton. Months before, the freshman won an all-star golf tournament in Texas. She then went on to win more than not during the spring, and after playing in Arkansas last week, her summer circuit of golf will only continue.

Ashton said she was headed to Chicago after Arkansas for a tournament. She will also play in San Diego for the IMG Academy Junior World Golf Championships in July. Lots of golf. Lots of fun.

“I remind myself that it’s just fun and it’s just a game so it kind of keeps me going,” Ashton said. “And I love it. So, I don’t get tired of it.”