EAGLE-VAIL — You can’t stop Vail Christian’s Cooper Gould, you can only hope to contain him.
While that’s probably hyperbole, the Saints senior is a run. It would be kind of fun if the regional tournament started today.
Gould won Thursday’s Battle Mountain Invitational with a level-par 71, followed by teammate Tony Clark at 74 and Battle Mountain’s Tanner Crisofulli in a logjam with three others at 74.
And stop us if you’ve heard this before, but VMS finished second in the 3A competition behind Aspen, while the Huskies were second in the 4A field.
Gould made it two wins in as many days, coming off a 68 on Wednesday at Gypsum Creek. He settled in with a birdie on the long par-4 second. He was 2-over after the 10th but started working his way back with red numbers on the par-5 11th and 14th.
Gould birdied the 17th, a par-3, before bogeying the home hole.
Those three birdies on the back were critical as Aspen’s Will Hazen also put up a 71. That put the two in a scorecard playoff, which Gould won with a 35 on the back nine as opposed to Hazen’s 36.
Clark continued his steady play with a 74. He’s gone 78-73-74 in the first three tournaments of the season. No. 4 was Clark’s demon on Wednesday. The 127-yard par-3 over the Eagle River stymied many. Clark ended up in the right bunker across the river, but it didn’t get any better from there. The senior, however, gets serious credit for righting the ship after that experience.
That’s more like it
Battle Mountain’s Crisofulli was not happy with his 87 on Wednesday down in Gypsum during his first outing of the season. He made amends with a 74 on his home course on Thursday.
Noting that taking another 13 strokes off his score on Monday in Aspen would put him in some rarified air, he joked, “I don’t know about a 61, but, hopefully, somewhere in the 60s.”
Crisofulli went into the drink on his second hole of the day, No. 4, a theme for the day, but bounced back with a tweeter on No. 5. He nearly drove the green on that 385-yard par-4.
“It was a slow swing, and it makes the ball go over the tree and right toward the green,” Crisofulli said of his driver on No. 5.
While Eagle-Vail can take the driver out of longer hitters’ hands, Crisofulli actually let the big dog eat because he’s pretty familiar with the loop, having worked there all summer.
Three-over going into the back nine, Crisofulli made back-to-back trips to the aviary on Nos. 13 and 14, and spit out pars or better on his final 11 holes.
This is a good ho-hum for the Vail Mountain squad. The Gore Rangers keep putting up scores in the 80s.
Thursday, it was Oliver Pesso (84), Ben Barron (86) and Sean Weller (89). Not only was that good for second, but the Gore Rangers are showing depth, which might come in handy.
“It’s really important because we have five players who can go out there and compete and are all very capable of hitting in the 80s and some of us in the 70s,” Weller said. “That’s very important for us. If two of us have bad days, we can still post three very good scores.”
Eagle Valley had two freshmen — Michael Sandoval and Keaton Fedrizzi — break 100.
“What you tell freshmen is, ‘This is your take-a-look year.’” Devils coach Tom Buzbee said. “These kids haven’t seen these courses before, and they’re all very different. ‘Enjoy it. You can put more pressure on yourself in a couple of years.’”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.