BRIGHTON — Throughout the last few rainy holes at Riverdale Knolls Golf Course during the Class 4A Region 3 tournament on Wednesday afternoon, Asa Wentworth was locked in.
The Centaurus senior, who had been playing neck-and-neck with Silver Creek’s Ben Harding and Windsor’s Carter Hinkle, sunk a birdie on the 15th hole before making par on each of the final three. That birdie proved clutch in helping him secure the gold during a regional tournament stacked with talent.
His 1-under-par performance of 70 strokes, along with strong rounds from junior Jameson Love (tied seventh, 76), junior Will Thompson (tied 11th, 77) and junior Matthew Vaver (tied 28th, 83) proved pivotal in securing a second-place team finish for the Warriors.
They’ll send the whole squad to the Class 4A state tournament at Pelican Lakes in Windsor on Oct. 3, as the top two teams and 13 individuals unaffiliated with those teams from each regional will grace the course for that final competition.
“It’s pretty crazy. It’s nice to finally have a round where it’s just a flow. Everything worked well. It felt great,” Wentworth said. “This season, I’ve started, I think, half our tournaments with a double on one and the nerves got to me earlier this season. I went par, par, par to start so I got into a good rhythm early on, and then I just kept it from there.”
Even though Wentworth managed to beat out Silver Creek’s Harding, he wasn’t far behind with a second-place finish at even. Harding led a group of Raptors who didn’t technically qualify as a team but will be sending their top four players to state the old-fashioned way.
Sophomore Preston Waller carded a 78 alongside his senior teammate Quinn Lockwood for a tie at 14th as senior Tyler Plaster secured his spot with 79 strokes and a tie at 16th. Harding was thrilled for his team, which only sent three guys to state last season.
“I was just trying to stay in the moment all day, not trying to put any expectations on myself,” Harding said. “I’m just trying to stay calm no matter what happened. I ride the roller coaster, the ups and downs of the day. Some good shots, some bad shots. I was trying to do my best each shot, wasn’t really too concerned about results for the most part.”
Plenty of qualifications to go around
The Warriors and Raptors weren’t the only kids to put together state-worthy performances in the rain on Wednesday.
Longmont senior Trace Saunders overcame the unfavorable weather to tie for seventh at 76. He worked out the issues in his game early in the season to add his name to the list at Pelican Lakes.
“It gives me a little bit of confidence, knowing that I can still go lower than what I did today and I’ll just try to keep that good score for states,” Saunders said. “I knew scores were going to be a little bit higher but with this weather, I just tried to persevere through it and try to make par every hole, tried to get to the clubhouse as soon as possible before it started to rain.”
Niwot freshman Jackson Sessa exceeded his own expectations to shoot a 79 and tie at 16th to secure his spot without the need for a playoff. He’ll be the Cougars’ lone representative at the final tournament.
“I wasn’t expecting to (qualify) but I’m glad I did,” Sessa said. “I knew it was going to be tough competition. The weather made it difficult and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to perform as good as I can.”
Mead’s Booth Hayes punched a much more exciting ticket, as he had to play a five-way playoff to secure the 13th and final spot. He beat out the other four players in the end, including his teammate Cade LaVanchy, Longmont’s Collin Pool and Niwot’s Emmett Shell, who all shot 80.
“I just happened to hit a pretty good drive just off to the right and I got a pretty lucky bounce on my second shot up onto the green,” Hayes said. “It was kind of history from there. I just had to get the putt close and tap it in real quick. And that happened to seal it for that 13th spot.”