Vail Mountain School wins Colorado 3A golf title
Boyer places 37th for Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain's Losa is 52nd in 4A field
For the second straight year, Eagle County has a Colorado 3A state golf tournament champion.
One year after Connor Downey won the individual crown, Felix Gruner, Stewart Bruce, Hunter Salani and Tiki Jaffe led Vail Mountain School — which finished fifth in 2020 and third in 2021 — to the 3A team title Tuesday after two days of golf at Pinehurst Country Club’s Maxwell Course in Denver, edging Resurrection Christian by one point. It’s the Gore Rangers’ first state golf title.
“It was wild,” said head coach Will Sipf, who said he wasn’t really following the team leaderboard until the last hour.
“I was just trying to pay attention to my boys and make sure they were doing the best they could and control what we could control.”
3A local athletes
Vail Mountain School
5, Stewart Bruce, 148 (73/75)
5, Felix Gruner, 148 (73/75)
11, Tiki Jaffe, 151 (75/76)
29, Hunter Salani, 157 (83/74)
74, Jack Hughes, 187 (97, 90)
81, Austin Reyna, 196 (97, 99)
4A local athletes
37, Jonathan Boyer, 162 (79,83)
52, Tyler Losa, 167 (89, 78)
When he did check, VMS, which led by one stroke after Day 1, held an eight-stroke advantage. That lead would evaporate, however, thanks to a rash of late birdies from Resurrection Christian freshmen Clint Summers, the individual leader after Monday.
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Summers was the only athlete to shoot under par on the first 18 holes, firing a 1-under 69 on the 6,500-yard course Monday to build a one-shot lead. His team, trailing Vail Mountain (221) by two strokes, was the underclassman’s primary concern after the first day.
“I didn’t want to be over par and I just wanted to be around first,” Summers told CHSAA. “I was checking the team score the entire round and our team didn’t play the best today, but we will be there tomorrow. We will figure it out.”
Ten players sat within four shots of the lead and just 13 shots separated the top eight teams, setting up for Tuesday’s exciting finish.
Individually, Thayer Plewe and Ryan Woodley had the hot hands on Day 2 — Plewe had six birdies in his second round and Woodley had five. The Montezuma Cortez senior leapfrogged Summers for the overall title with his 64 on the day, winning by five strokes as Woodley placed third. Summers, however, would give the Gore Rangers a scare with birdies on Nos. 14 and 15, a par on No. 16 and another birdie on No. 17.
Gruner’s tee-shot on No. 17 was a thing of beauty, landing 12-feet from the cup on what Sipf described as “an insanely hard pin.” His birdie attempt rolled five-feet past, however, and he missed the par save, too. All of the sudden the Gore Rangers’ lead was down to one.
Meanwhile, ahead on No. 18, Jaffe was punching out of the trees after his tee shot. His third would get to the green, but he missed an 18-foot par attempt and had to settle for bogey.
“All of the sudden, it was like, ‘oh god, this is too close,'” said Sipf.
On No. 18, Gruner hit a perfect drive and nailed his 140-yard approach to five feet. Walking alongside the region champion and his team’s best golfer through the majority of the season, Sipf told the senior, “You gotta make this putt man.”
Gruner delivered. Behind him, Bruce brought up the anchor, missing a 15-foot birdie attempt but tapping in for par to give the Gore Rangers a one-shot lead and an agonizing wait for Summers to finish his round. Sipf sent the quartet to the putting green to prepare for a playoff. Summers had an 18-foot birdie attempt, but he left it a few inches short, clinching the Gore Ranger win.
“In the end we won and it was an awesome finish and I couldn’t be more proud and excited for those kids. They deserved it,” Sipf said of the group he’s guided for the last four years.
“Having those four boys the last three years in a row at state finishing fifth two years ago, third last year and winning this year was absolutely incredible. It was a pretty awesome experience.”
Sipf knew going in there would be a handful of three-putts throughout the tournament, as the challenging course’s greens were undulating and difficult to read. “So for us it was just about avoiding bogeys as much as possible and fighting for pars,” he said, pointing to the balanced performance across his roster.
“For Tiki to show up the way he did the last few days was absolutely massive,” he said of Jaffe, who didn’t break 80 multiple times during the regular season but came through with rounds of 75 and 76.
“For Hunter, throwing up a 74 was huge and awesome for him to fight back after Day 1,” he continued. “So everybody contributed, everybody did their part and in the end we got it done and it was awesome.”
No area teams qualified for the 4A tournament, but Eagle Valley’s Jonathan Boyer and Battle Mountain’s Tyler Losa represented the valley as individuals at Pelican Lakes Golf Course in Windsor.
Boyer’s final card was similar to his junior year — where he shot an 83 and 79 to place 48th — just in reverse. He opened with a 79 on Monday — including a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole.
“Jonathan had the short game going and saved par over and over again,” stated head coach Zachary Haglin. “It was amazing to walk the golf course and watch him play in the state tournament his senior year. His experience was apparent when he stays calm and confident during a stressful event like state.”
He played with Losa, who was making his first appearance at the state tournament, on the first day. “You could tell they were having fun,” Haglin added.
On Tuesday, Boyer shot an 83, finishing 37th overall. “I am very proud of Jonathan this week.” Haglin said. After an 89 on the first day of play, Losa found his groove on the second day, carding a 78 to finish 52nd.
- Vail Mountain, 445
- Resurrection Christian, 446
- Colorado Academy, 454
- Kent Denver, 457
- Aspen, 464
- Peak to Peak, 465
- Montezuma Cortez, 466
- Basalt, 467
- Holy Family, 471
- Monte Vista, 499
- Pagosa Springs, 518
- Thayer Plewe, Montezuma Cortez – 134
- Clint Summers, Resurrection Christian – 139
- Ryan Woodley, Liberty Common – 140
- Rudiger Heitz, Holy Family – 145
- (tie, 148) Ryan Ewoniuk, Severance; Felix Gruner, VMS; Stewie Bruce, VMS; Jack Brayman, Peak to Peak
9. (tie, 150) Garrett Exelbert, Basalt; Carson Miller, Aspen