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Destiny strikes: Monarch’s Caleb Michaels tops Class 5A golf

The senior won in his fourth straight trip to state

Monarch's Caleb Michaels celebrates winning the Class 5A state tournament on No. 18 Tuesday at City Park Golf Course in Denver. The senior had made it to state all four years of his prep career. (Brent W. New/
Monarch’s Caleb Michaels celebrates winning the Class 5A state tournament on No. 18 Tuesday at City Park Golf Course in Denver. The senior had made it to state all four years of his prep career. (Brent W. New/

DENVER — Seeing Caleb Michaels in reach of a state title on the No. 18 tee box, his father smiled, thinking back to before his son could barely walk.

Even as a baby, Gus Michaels remembers his son having an unrelenting passion for the game of golf. A trip to Las Vegas some 17 years ago, he said little Michaels was in the pool clutching onto his father’s wedge and a golf ball.

Some things never change.

On his fourth try at the state tournament Tuesday, the Monarch senior claimed Class 5A gold with a two-day score of 3-under-par 137 at City Park Golf Course.

With a 5-foot par putt to win, his teammates, coaches and father joined him in jubilation and treated him to a water bath.

The moment — call it destiny — came just after a final round that saw multiple lead changes. After the previous three years at state ended in at least some disappointment for him.

From the infant holding onto his father’s clubs tight to a champion holding out his banner, this felt surreal, he said.

“I’ve had a pretty rough go at state, and I’ve shot myself out of it every year,” said a sopping-wet Michaels. “Being in it on the back nine, it just felt meant to be.”



Michaels claimed a share of the lead midway through the back nine after trailing five shots to Fossil Ridge’s Austin Barry following Day 1.

He then briefly had the lead all to himself around 14 before an eagle chip from Fort Collins’ Ian Hunn tied the two at 3-under.

Two groups ahead, Hunn bogeyed 18. Michaels followed, setting himself up with a 5-foot approach that he calmly — which had been his demeanor all tournament long — buried in front of a hoard of spectators and cameras.

“His composure is a lot better than mine,” Monarch coach Geoff Findley said. “I was shaking like a leaf trying to video and capture the moment. I’m just impressed with the fortitude that kid has. He fights and he came out on top today.”

That “fight” throughout the tournament was often in a wide grin.

Even in the late goings with the lead in balance, Michaels was overheard talking to his assistant coaches about things like the state’s high school football scene and what they were all going to eat for dinner.

After struggling to keep things fun at regionals two weeks ago, it was anything and everything to keep his mind clear and his game free.

“Just not think about it too much,” Michaels said. “I definitely felt more calm this round than any other tournament I’ve played. Which is actually surprising given the circumstances.”

Michaels was the first state champion golfer from the coverage area (Boulder, Broomfield, Longmont) since 2017 when Peak to Peak’s Davis Long won it.

Finishing two shots back of Michaels, Boulder senior Luke Blankinship tied for fourth at 1-under 139.

Leading the lone local team that qualified, the Panthers’ ace reached the state tournament for just his second time — the other as a 2020 alternate.

Late, he nearly grabbed a share of the lead himself with a 5-foot birdie chance on No. 16. He just missed.

“I’m just excited to put up a good number the last two days and play well with my team here,” he said as Boulder finished 11th as a team.

Elsewhere, Fairview junior Sawyer Sales finished 19th (144) in his second straight trip to state. Monarch’s Talan Gover (145), the Front Range League champ, tied for 24th.

Legacy’s Ben Cerretani and Boulder’s Doug Holleman (153) tied for 54th. Fairview freshman Miles Kuhl (154) tied for 59th, followed by Legacy’s Luke Tourault (155) in a tie for 62nd, Boulder’s Siadhal Sweeney (157) in a tie for 71st and his brother Eamon Sweeney (181) in 82nd.

Fossil Ridge edged Rock Canyon for the team title.


Boulder’s Luke Blankinship watches his drive Tuesday at City Park Golf Course in Denver at the Class 5A state golf tournament. (Brent W. New/