LONGMONT –– As effortless as she often makes the game of golf look on the course, Erie sophomore Hadley Ashton can as maturely and confidently chat about the colossal expectations she has put on herself.
“I want to show myself that I can be the best high school (golfer) Colorado has ever seen,” she said after her second straight regional championship Tuesday afternoon. “I’m trying to win state four times in a row, which hasn’t been done.”
Ashton knows she is a ways away from that feat. The closest before her was former Holy Family golfer Hailey Schalk, who won three times before her run at No. 4 was nixed by the pandemic in 2020. But the sophomore’s golf game has been so good thus far in the high school ranks –– featured through her title win as a freshman, into her undefeated run through every CHSAA tournament she’s been in this spring –– the narrative from both the outside and inside has already long been set.
“The neat thing is she’s still a kid and relates to peers well and she interacts with them well, and yet she has this maturity on the golf course that’s way beyond her years,” Erie coach Brandon Bird said. “She’s the most consistent player I’ve ever been around.”
At The Fox Hill Club, Ashton won Class 4A Region 3 by eight strokes over teammate Logan Hale in second place, carding 2-under-par 70.
The defending state champ Tigers as a team won by 27 strokes over runner-up and fellow team state qualifier Holy Family. All four of their players finished inside the top 10, including Hollyn Drennen tied for fifth (86) and Taylor Hale tied for 10th (92).
Erie will now go for repeat gold at the 4A state tournament at Thorncreek Golf Course May 30-31.
“There’s some added pressure,” said Hale, who finished seventh at the 4A tournament in 2022. “Last year, I would say our mentality was like, we’re a new team, all new players and we want to go out there and show people what we can do. It was a fun vibe. This year, there’s definitely expectations but we’re all confident. It’ll be a good time.”
On a smoggy and warm day in Longmont, Ashton had a stranglehold of the lead from practically her first hole on, dropping birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 — both par-4s. She closed with birdies in three of her final five holes, missing an eagle putt by an inch or two on par-5 No. 18.
“I read it a little bit wrong,” she grinned. “A lot of this season has been the fact that I know I can go really low on these courses, but it’s just a few inches or a few dumb mistakes that is stopping me from doing that. But I’m proud of how I finished and proud of the birdie on 18.”
Hale was behind her, recovering from a triple bogey on par-3 No. 4 to finish with three birdies and an even-par back-nine. Finley Holmes, who played in the grouping with Ashton, led Holy Family in third with a score of 82.
“I told (Finley) to just stay with her,” Holy Family coach Heikke Nielsen said. “If you can even stay with her you may have one of the best scores you’ve ever had. Those players are all capable of hitting similar type golf shots. It’s just the frequency of golf shots like Hadley has.”
Along with the teams from Erie and Holy Family, 13 golfers from the region punched their ticket into next week’s state tournament. A list of all qualifiers is below.
Automatic qualifying teams
Erie, 1st, 18-over-par 234
1. So. Hadley Ashton, 70
2. Jr. Logan Hale, 78
5. Jr. Hollyn Drennen, 86
10. So. Taylor Hale, 92
Holy Family, 2nd, 261
3. So. Finley Holmes, 82
8. Fr. Steffi Heitz, 87
10. So. Fiona Holmes, 92
14. Sr. Liesel Heitz, 97
Other area teams qualified with three individuals making the cut
Niwot, 3rd, 274
5. So. Alena Kasanicky, 86
5. Jr. Mina O’Dell, 86
T19. Sr. Kate Jones, 102
Frederick, 4th, 297
13. Jr. Zoe Martinez, 95
17. Sr. Ella Hoople, 100
T19. Sr. Hannah Donaldson, 102
4. Thornton Jr. Melody Sandoval, 84
T5. Niwot So. Alena Kasanicky, 86
T5. Niwot Jr. Mina O’Dell, 86
9. Centaurus Sr. Julia Love, 89
12. Silver Creek Jr. Brielle Hickman, 93
13. Frederick Jr. Zoe Maritnez, 95
15. Northridge So. Leila Thompson, 98
16. Fort Morgan Jr. Takoda Schreiner, 99
17. Frederick Sr. Ella Hoople, 100
18. Silver Creek Jr. Anna Davidson, 101
T19. Frederick Sr. Hannah Donaldson, 102
T19. Northridge Fr. Jade Hepler, 102
T19. Niwot Sr. Kate Jones, 102