Saints, Gore Rangers sending teams to state
DURANGO — Vail did well at Tuesday’s regional tournament down at Hillcrest Golf Club in Durango.
More specifically, Vail Christian edged Vail Mountain School for second place, 246-252, but who really cares?
Both the Saints and Gore Rangers are sending teams to state — Cooper Gould, Tony Clark and Mason Daniels for Vail Christian; and Dylan Hardenbergh, Oliver Pesso and Ben Barron for VMS.
And having qualified in a tournament held in the southwest of the state in Durango, they all get to go to Northeastern 18 in Sterling in two weeks.
And despite this geographic juxtaposition, there was much rejoicing on the ride home.
Be like Tristan
No one’s going to feel sorry for the Saints’ Cooper Gould. He shot a 74 on a day in Durango where scores ballooned. There was nothing even resembling drama as to whether the defending 3A regional champion would make the state tournament.
But he did want to repeat as regional champ. Gould had 185 yards to go on the 18th and he used what he calls a “baby” 6-iron, but it didn’t fade.
He was left of the green and had short-sided himself in a tough lie — chip, two-putt for a bogey and regional title to Aspen’s Trey Robinson. Bummer.
But then again, there’s something to be said for being second out of this region.
“I was pretty disappointed, but I wanted to be like Tristan, Tristan Rohrbaugh from Basalt,” Gould said. “I beat him at regionals last year and he went on to win state. That’s the mindset.”
This is easy?
VMS’ Dylan Hardenbergh doesn’t talk much. His game does the talking for him.
And the sophomore is making this state-qualifying thing look easy. He’s 2-for-2 so far on regional Tuesday.
He shot an 80 at Gypsum Creek last year to get to state, and this year a steady 81.
Hardenbergh used the practice round at Hillcrest, pretty much an unknown course to most from the four local teams, to figure out where to hit the greens on approaches. A lot of times, that meant not going for the pin.
And that led to eight pars and 10 bogeys. The latter may sound like a lot, but avoiding the big ugly was the key to the day. Slow and steady won the race for the sophomore.
“I only thought about state when it was done,” Hardenbergh said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it throughout my round.”
No pins and needles
Last year, Tony Clark experienced the great Vail Christian tradition of being an alternate. The Saints have specialized in being alternates (Robby Bowles, Clark and Parker Poage), who ended up getting the call from CHSAA that they, in fact, were going to state.
It’s not fun.
Clark took care of any doubts with an 84 on Tuesday and is in state. No passing Go. No collecting $200.
“It feels good,” Clark said. “I’m so blessed to get out there and play golf and keep playing it after regionals. It’s definitely a nice feeling.”
Clark had a choppy start, doubling the first, followed by bogeys on nos. 2 and 3. He righted the ship with three pars in a row and birdie on No. 7.
Driver — good or bad?
On the other end of the spectrum, VMS’ Oliver Pesso got off to a great start. He went out in 40, just 5-over par on a day when nobody in 3A or 4A came within three strokes of red numbers.
Pesso was only 6-over through 12, and then came a triple on the par-4 13th and a double on the par-3 14th.
“I put my driver away,” Pesso said. “It kept on going right.”
Bad driver. Bad.
However, with the finishing par-4 playing at 447 yards, Pesso had to pull the big dog, and this time, when he really needed it, the driver behaved.
Good driver. Good.
Pesso went on to make par on the home hole and card an 84.
“I am in shock that I am going to state,” VMS’ Ben Barron said. “I had a really nice start and three or four holes of bleh.”
Yes, that is a technical golf term. Bleh means “triple, bogey, double and I think my trip to state is going down the tubes.”
“I just had to focus on the home stretch. Coach Sapp has helped me with that,” Barron said of VMS’ Ross Sappenfield. “I can’t focus on the bad. From there, I hit one stellar drive and that brought me back.”
So why did Barron think he was in serious trouble? This isn’t the PGA tour with scoreboards everywhere. Barron thought his score of 87 wasn’t close. After all, Vail Christian’s Poage and Clark shot 81 and 82 at Gypsum Creek and were alternates last year. Even with more clarity on the 18th, Sappenfield thought Barron had to par the home hole just to make the cut. Barron parred it and still had two strokes to spare.
Bogey and par
The confusion of the end of a regional tournament continued with the Saints’ Mason Daniels. His coach, Chris Coleman, told him that he needed a bogey and a par on nos. 17 and 18.
“I kind of figured that it was settled,” Daniels said. “He told me bogey and par, and I thought bogey and par would be a nice way to end my high school career.”
Yo, Mason, what coach Coleman meant was that combination makes for a state bid.
Daniels thought, like many before him, that everyone else was playing better and didn’t account for score inflation, inevitable at the make-or-break regional tourney.
Daniels got his bogey and par for an 89 and he is going to state after four years of varsity golf.
In the 4A ranks, Eagle Valley edged Battle Mountain, 270-273. The Devils’ Tanner Caldarola shot an 85 and is the second alternate for state. Second alternates have made state before, but nothing is guaranteed.
For the Huskies, Tanner Crisofulli had a nightmare of a front nine, capped by a nine on the seventh — he was hitting five off the tee after two shots went O.B.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.