VAIL - Vail Christian's Robby Bowles has had a flair for the dramatic the last two years.
He's made the state golf tournament the last two falls, but it's been as an alternate.
"It's key for me to play solid at regionals, so I don't have to be stressed out for a couple of days," Bowles said jokingly Tuesday.
In 2010, the first year the Saints competed in boys golf, then-Vail Christian coach Jeremy Lowe didn't think Bowles had a chance to make state after being designated an alternate. It was only when Lowe was perusing the starting tee times for the upcoming state tournament that he saw Bowles' name on the list.
Last year, Bowles put up an 89 at regionals and again got a late bid when the state field was finalized. This year, no drama would be nice.
"We'd really like to get Robby there on his own," current Saints coach Chris Coleman said.
After Tuesday's Vail Mountain School Invitational at the Vail Golf Club, things are looking pretty good for Bowles and the Saints as a whole.
Vail Christian won the tournament with 235 strokes, one ahead of Aspen. (On a side note, congratulations to the Skiers' Clayton Crawford who aced Vail's 15th. Cokes for all, we hope.)
"We really had a great day," Coleman said. "The greens were challenging and fast. We are coming down the home stretch and we feel really good about where we're at."
And with good reason. Cooper Gould led the Saints with a 76. Gould qualified last year for state as a freshman. Bowles carded a 78, followed by Tony Clark at 81. Past performance doesn't guarantee future results, but putting up those numbers at the Conquistador Golf Club in Cortez in two weeks at regionals would likely send all three to state and have the Saints in the hunt for the 3A regional crown.
"I think our team has seven really good golfers, who all could make it to state," Bowles said. "We just need to focus on good course management and making the right plays at the right time."
That's going to be key for anyone down in Cortez, be they Saints Gore Rangers, Devils or Huskies. With a little bit of water, Conquistador's primary obstacles are trees - keep it boring and in the fairway and life will be good.
Bowles should know. He fired a 73 down there two weeks ago to finish in a three-way tie for first.
Battle Mountain took sixth overall and second among the local squads with a 263.
Michael Thompson (86), Lucas Kern (88) and Karl Norris (89) all broke 90. The Huskies, along with the rest of the field, had a tough day on Vail's greens. (There were no complaints about the condition of the putting surfaces. They were just tough.)
"I see all their potential," Huskies coach Cassie Desmone said. "Their driving is improving. Their chipping is improving. It's just translating that into lower scores."
VMS was the host, but it was tough day on familiar fairways.
"It was not our best showing," Gore Rangers coach Ross Sappenfield said. "We've had better tournaments. The boys were disappointed in themselves, but it just makes them hungry for the next few tournaments."
Harrison Alonzo led the way with an 86, followed by Ben Barron (88) and Oliver Pesso (91).
Eagle Valley had been hoping to ride some momentum from its recent tournaments, but the Devils had an off day. Kyatt Johnson (94), Jay Bullock (95) and Hayden Floyd (98) were the team's three scorers.
"This was a little blip," Eagle Valley coach Tom Buzbee said. "We'd been climbing the ladder slowly. We might have relaxed a little because there was not man-eating sagebrush. Vail's greens are tricky."
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Vail Christian 235
2. Aspen 236
2. Rifle 236
4. Summit 251
5. Aspen JV 252
6. Battle Mountain 263
7. Vail Mountain 265
8. Summit JV 287
9. Battle Mountain JV 292
10. Eagle Valley 296
11. Eagle Valley JV 308
Jesse Beetham, Aspen 74
Dylan Mitchell, SHS 75
Danny Bartells, Rifle 76
Cooper Gould 76