Mullen’s Ashley Tait rolls to title
GYPSUM – Mullen’s Ashley Tait knew on hole No. 1 at Cotton Ranch.With a Tait holding a six-stroke lead ahead of four other golfers, it was over before Day 2 of the 2005 Colorado State 4A Girls Golf Tournament even started.”I kind of knew that from No. 1,” Tait said. “I just felt good about my game. I was like ‘Well, six strokes? I’m going to make it more than that.'”That she did. After a 70 Monday, she was the only golfer in red numbers Tuesday with a 71 for a two-day total of 3-under-par 141, a good 10 strokes ahead of Aspen’s Kristin Walla.That’s three titles in four years for the Mustangs senior and she joins Cherry Creek’s Lynn Ann Moretto (1995-1997) as the only female golfer to have a hat trick of crowns in Colorado.
“This was probably the funnest high school tournament,” Tait said. “It’s my senior year and I wanted to go out with a bang. I believe I’m the best player in the state and I didn’t want to lose my last high school tournament.”Throw in good performances from Mullen’s Maggie Boberg and Sasha Podalak and the Mustangs collected their fifth consecutive state title with 510 strokes ahead of Pueblo South (515) and Fleming (541).”It’s been a great ride,” Mullen coach Kate Walker said. “The girls have done really well. They’ve worked very hard and stayed focused and kept their cool under pressure and that helped them come through.”Taming the mesa
Likely the biggest key to Tait’s win was her play on the front nine. The time tested strategy at Cotton Ranch is “Hang on on the front nine and make hay on the back.”Tait did more than hang on. She was 2-under for the two days on the front. Tuesday, she opened with a bogey on No. 1, but settled in with two pars, including a clutch save on No. 3.The Tulane-bound senior birdied the long par-5 fourth for the second straight day and then efficiently parred the mesa – five through eight – Cotton Ranch’s toughest stretch of holes.”Basically, I just try to get through them and I just focus on each shot, hitting it straight,” Tait said. “I don’t even look at the sides, the junk, just right down the middle, right at my target and get through them with pars.”Tait went out in 36 and came back in 35. On the back, she had back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15, but she ate up the two par-5s – 13 and 16 – for birdies and also pulled in a tweeter on 10.”I think it’s her concentration,” Walker said. “It’s her focus. It’s her composure. I think she was able to practice here, play two practice rounds and she’s even very focused in those practice rounds. So, she knows exactly what her game plan is. She had a strategy and she stuck to it. She was on her game enough. She was accurate and it all went according to plan.”
Walla secondWhile Tait went lower, the rest of the pack couldn’t keep pace. Aspen’s Walla had a solid 75 to finish second. Pueblo South’s Sarah Ruybalid shot a 77 to tie for third at 153 with Broomfield’s Stefanie Ferguson (76 on Tuesday).Cheyenne Mountain’s Karen Wanersdorfer carded a 78 for a two-day total of 154, good for fifth. Harrison’s Cierra Ko rounded out the top-six with an 81, ending with a 157.Walla got off to a very good start with four consecutive pars and a birdie on the fifth.
“Off the tee I thought I pulled it,” she said. “It turned out to be just as far as you can go on the fairway. I was right up at the front of the layup area and it was the perfect sand-wedge yardage where the pin was and everything. I was totally comfortable with the shot and I could just aim a the pin.”After a par on the sixth – the course’s toughest hole, a slice on seven into the sagebrush ended any hopes of a charge. Walla found the woods again, had to take an unplayable lie and ended up one-putting for a triple bogey.Walla, who will be playing for Texas next year, bogeyed 10 and got word from her dad that Tait was distancing herself from the pack. From there, she figured it was a battle for second and she just ground out pars for the rest of the round.”I’m pretty happy,” Walla said. “After Ashley was up by six strokes yesterday, she played good and you can’t be upset getting beat by someone who played their best and hung in there. I’m happy. It’s an improvement. I had fun out here.”
Huskies improveOn Day 2, Battle Mountain’s Courtney Davis and Erica Ring improved upon their scores of Day 1 when both had shot 113s. Davis dropped to a 106, while Ring had a 112. Both seniors were making their final appearance for Battle Mountain.”I’m going to be so sad to see the twins (Courtney and Samantha Davis) leave,” Huskies coach Cassie Desmone said. “I’ve had those girls for four years since they were freshmen. I’ve had Erica since she’s been a sophomore. They were real vital to the program. They’re going to be missed.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Colorado
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.