PARACHUTE — In golf, they are not the “small” schools.
Vail Christian and the Vail Mountain School more than held their own among the big boys of the Western Slope in the season-opening tournament at Battlement Mesa on Thursday.
Vail Christian finished with 224 strokes, second only to 4A Grand Junction (223) out of 19 teams, and first among its 3A counterparts.
The top individual-medalist from Eagle County was none other than VMS senior Harrison Alonzo with a 72.
VMS (249) was ninth overall and fourth in the 3A race. Eagle Valley (254) and Battle Mountain (258) were 13th and 14th, respectively.
“We’re working on thinking our way around the golf course,” Saints coach Chris Coleman said. “That’s important. They’ve got great potential.”
Tony Clark flashed a bit of that potential with a 73, leading three Saints into the 70s. Cooper Gould carded a 75, while Parker Poage came around in 76.
Clark had a little bit of everything on Battlement Mesa’s par-5s. He eagled No. 17 and had birdies on Nos. 5 and 11. On No. 7, he went into the hazard left, leading to a less-exciting number.
“I’m super-stoked just for our whole team,” Clark said. “I get to go out with two of my friends and any of us can post a 72, a 73, a 71. It sets the tone for the season.”
‘The secret’s in the dirt’
Alonzo started the season with sweet music, and his obligatory Ben Hogan reference — “The secret’s in the dirt.” The VMS senior is the top-returning local state qualifier from last season, finishing 21st.
He carded three tweeters, including a chip-in on 18, on his way to level par. Alonzo was in the same group with Aspen’s Clayton Crawford (69) and Basalt’s Tristan Rohrbaugh (70).
“That was really fun,” Alonzo said. “We were really feeding off each other’s energy. Clayton was 3-under on the front, and I knew I’d better kick it into high gear.”
The theme of the day was course management. That’s generally a good idea in any golf season. It’s an especially good thought in 2013 as regionals are at Gypsum Creek, where trying to overpower the course generally leads to disaster.
It’s going to be a busy week ahead for the Saints, Gore Rangers, Huskies and Devils with four tournaments in four days, starting Monday — Lakota Canyon, Eagle-Vail, Gypsum Creek and Rifle.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.