Gruner’s individual title leads Vail Mountain School to 3A Region 4 golf team championship
Boyer and Losa qualify for state for Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain in 4A Region 4
It’s playoff time people.
Vail Mountain School became the first state-bound prep team in the valley after winning the 3A Region 4 golf title by one point on Tuesday. VMS scored 225 points to nip Basalt (226) at River Valley Ranch Golf Club in Carbondale. The Gore Rangers were led by senior Felix Gruner, who shot a 2-under 70 to take the individual title by five strokes. Gruner had three birdies on the front nine.
“Awesome day for the team, the boys really played great golf,” head coach Will Sipf stated. “Felix shooting 70 for the outright win was fantastic.”
Hunter Salani (77) tied for sixth, Tiki Jaffe (78) tied for 10th and Stewie Bruce (82) was tied for 17th to round out the Gore Rangers four players, all of whom qualified for state.
“We were thrilled with the result and now the focus the next two weeks is preparing for the state championship down in Denver at Pinehurst.”
Support Local Journalism
Vail Christian was led by Jack Hughes (77) in sixth and Austin Reyna (81) in 15th and finished tied for fifth with 252 points in the 15-team region.
Each regional advanced the top two teams and the next 13 individuals not on a team. Hughes was the second non-VMS/Basalt finisher and Reyna was the eighth.
Meanwhile, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley were at Eagle Ranch for the 4A Region 4 championship. Montrose (217) took the team title, followed by Grand Junction (219). Battle Mountain (239) and Eagle Valley (239) tied for eighth.
The individual title was a battle between Montrose’s Jake Legg and Grand Junction’s freshman star Hunter Simmons. With three holes remaining, Legg sat at 4-under and Simmons was 3-under, well ahead of what was then a four-way tie for third at even par. Legg would birdie his final hole to finish at 68. Simmons sat at 2-under entering his last hole, the par-5 second hole, but could only manage a birdie to finish at 69.
Eagle Valley’s Jonathan Boyer was the top local finisher, thanks in large part to the three birdies he opened with on the back nine (he started his round on the 10th hole).
“Yeah I started playing really well and it was kind of fun,” Boyer, who finished tied for 11th with a 3-over 75, said.
“I was like, ‘OK we’re 1-under, now we’re 2-under, oh boy we’re 3-under. So, it was super fun, I was hitting wedges really close and playing really solid to start.”
“But then it got a little more shaky.”
Boyer tripled No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, but the senior didn’t cave. He responded on the next hole with a birdie.
“That was a confidence boost for sure,” Boyer said.
“Really proud of Johnny — really proud of the way he played today,” Eagle Valley coach Zachary Haglin added.
“He had it going to start the day and continued to grind until the finish.”
At the regional tournament, the pace of play typically lengthens as athletes stare a little longer over every putt. Boyer, who qualified for his second state tournament with his efforts, was ready for the pressure-packed moments.
“I just kind of trusted my game,” Boyer said.
“I’ve played a ton all summer, played well all season and just trusted that I could bounce back.”
“At the same time, it’s just about coming out and playing good golf,” Haglin said of the added intensity at the state-qualifying event.
“There were some really good golfers here today.”
Heading into state, Boyer hopes to be in the top half of the field and is shooting for a top-20, which would earn him a second-team all-state award.
Sean Asselin (82) and Gunther Soltvedt (82) were tied at 34th and Lawson Rumley (84) was the fourth Devil.
“Regionals has always been tough because you have to show up and play really well; and you have to get it going like Johnny did,” Haglin remarked.
“It’s been great working with all the guys. I’m really proud of the way they finished and really enjoyed this year,” he added in regard to his entire team’s performance.
Tyler Losa (77) and Owen Jackson (79) placed 14th and 25th to pace the Huskies. Freshman Beau Suman carded an 83 to round out Battle Mountain’s scoring.
“First time going to state, senior year, that’s the way to finish it off,” Losa said of qualifying for state as an individual.
“It was a great round honestly. My driver was working for me; I kept every drive inbounds and felt like my iron shots were consistent.”
Losa birdied his second-to-last hole, which proved to be critical in avoiding the playoff, which he was in at last year’s regional.
“Just putting in the effort every week,” he answered when asked how he made the jump in performance the last year.
The 4A state golf tournament is Oct. 3-4 at Pelican Lakes-Windsor in Windsor. The 3A tournament is Oct. 3-4 at Pinehurst Country Club in Denver.