Vail Valley high school golfers qualify for state |

Vail Valley high school golfers qualify for state

VMS qualifies as team

Vail Mountain School's Tiki Jaffe helps the Gore Rangers qualify for the state tournament on Tuesday. VMS finished second as a team on Tuesday at the 3A Region 4 Tournament.
Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo

Eight is not enough, people.

Class 4A Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley and 3A Vail Christian and Vail Mountain qualified eight golfers on Tuesday for their respective state-championship tournaments.

At River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, VMS (241 strokes) finished second behind Aspen (236) and just one stroke ahead of Vail Christian (242) at the 3A Region 4 Tournament. With that, the Gore Rangers will be sending a team to Dos Rios in Gunnison on Oct. 6-7. That will be Tiki Jaffe, Stewie Bruce and Felix Gruner.

Although the Saints fell short of qualifying as a team, Ross Anderson and Connor Downey punched their tickets to state as individuals. Anderson finished second with a 75, and Downey (77) fourth.

Meanwhile, at Green Valley Ranch down on the Front Range, Eagle Valley’s Jake Crawford and Battle Mountain’s P.J. Kessenich and Blu Barnett earned their state invites. The Devils are hoping for one more as Jonathan Boyer finished with an 89. He is the second alternate for the 4A state tourney at the Country Club of Colorado Oct. 6-7.

VMS returns to state

The Gore Rangers had two in the top 10 at River Valley Ranch — Jaffe tied for fifth with a 78, while Bruce was seventh, carding a 79.

Jaffe struggled a bit on the front nine, but locked it in on the back. He shot a 1-over par 37 on the home nine. Bruce started the day well with a birdie on No. 1, a 387-yard, par-4. While everyone wants to stay in red numbers, bogeys are fine; just no doubles or the dreaded, “other.”

Eagle Valley’s Jake Crawford is bound for the state tournament after firing an 85 on Tuesday at regionals. (Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo)

Bruce never had worse than a bogey all day. That did the trick. While Gruner wasn’t in danger of missing the cut as an individual, he finished with a flourish with a birdie on the home hole to lock up an 84.

Anderson is a newcomer to Vail Christian, yet he is making a name for himself. A hardship transfer from Louisiana because of a hurricane, he’s got game. He went out in 41 and came back in 34 with consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 and 12.

Downey bounced back from a tough outing at Vail last week. He still had an ugly with a triple on the par-4 sixth, but made up for it with three tweeters on the front.

“What’s great about those guys is that they can have a bad hole and then calm down,” Vail Christian coach Randy Schouten said. “It’s like water off a duck’s back. Connor had a triple on six, and he basically laughed it off. We try to teach that. You can be excited about a birdie or mad about a three-putt, but on the next tee, it’s time to refocus.”

Blu, P.J. and Jake

At Green Valley down by Denver International Airport, Kessenich and Barnett made two for state for the Huskies.

Starting on No. 15, Kessenich shook off some early mistakes, including a double on the 602-yard, par-5 18th. (Is this the U.S. Open? Six-hundred-yard par-5s?) He had a beautiful stretch of golf on the course’s front nine — eight pars and a sole bogey.

Barnett hit the cut right on the number with an 88. He took advantage of the short par-4 fourth for a much-needed birdie.

As it was getting down to crunch time, Huskies coach Andrew Jones walked with Barnett.

“I told him ‘bogey golf and you’re in,'” Jones said. “He did just that.”

Eagle Valley’s Crawford had a little less drama in qualifying. His 85 was an easy three strokes under the line.

“Jake was really composed the whole time,” Devils coach Zach Haglin said. “It took a couple of holes for him to get in the zone, and then he played great.”

Battle Mountain’s P. J. Kessenich is one of two Huskies going to state along with teammate Blu Barnett. (Chris Dilllmann | Daily file photo)
Chris Dill

Crawford would like to have a teammate at state in October. Boyer shot an 89 and is second on the waitlist for state. Locals have gone to state as alternates before — Vail Christian’s Robbie Bowles made it twice as an alternate in 2010 and 2011.

In the meantime, young Boyer should be able to get a tee time at Eagle Ranch to keep his game sharp.

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