Seventh at Sterling, VMS golf looking ahead |

Seventh at Sterling, VMS golf looking ahead

Vail Mountain School's Oliver Pesso rolls one in for par on the 13th hole of the Northeastern 18 during the state tournament in Sterling earlier this week. VMS finished seventh as a team in Class 3A.
Special to the Daily |

STERLING — OK, the season just ended. The Vail Mountain School golf team’s bus may have just returned from Sterling as you are reading this. There is snow on the hills right around VMS.

But the topic on the minds of the Gore Rangers after finishing seventh at state is already about next year.

VMS finished seventh at the 3A state tourney with a score of 479 strokes on Monday and Tuesday. That’s a pretty amazing finish, given that the Gore Rangers, whose high school student body is about 120.

Now throw in that Ben Barron (tied for 20th), Oliver Pesso (T28) and Dylan Hardenbergh (T30) are all coming back next season.

That might even make VMS coach Ross Sappenfield do a little happy dance. (OK, maybe not for the steady Sappenfield.)

“We’re definitely looking ahead,” Pesso said. “We’re excited for next season. All of us want to do better. My offseason, I want to really prepare for next summer, get stronger, fine-tuning my swing.”

This trio already has a combined five state-tourney appearances, and the early rumble is that 2015 regionals will be at Haymaker up in Steamboat Springs.

But before everyone fast-forwards to August, a look at the leaderboard in Sterling is interesting.

Host Sterling won the tournament at 459, followed by Kent Denver (464). Then there is just a logjam. Seven strokes separated third (Peak to Peak) and eighth (Resurrection Christian).

Get the bag, Dylan

Barron started his state tourney with a double bogey, which is just swell.

“I just went to basics with my golf swing,” said Barron of his start. “Yeah, that was bad, but I focused on the next hole.”

And off he went — 38-38 on Monday. Baron was the model of consistency — with just one dreaded “other” on his card during two days. He did everything except get a birdie — until late.

On the 18th, he had a tricky downhill putt for a tweeter.

“I told Dylan, ‘If I make this, you’re going to carry my bag to the van,’” Barron said. “He did.”

Come on, 3-wood

A lot of the talk coming into the state tournament was that the Northeastern 18 plays just 6,436 yards from the tips. Would golfers blast away with the driver, particularly on the short par-4s or club down?

Pesso did take out his trusty 3-wood, and naturally topped it. (Insert a Homer Simpson d’oh here.) That led to an ugly early stretch on nos. 15-17 — Pesso started on 10 on Monday.

“I came back strong,” Pesso said.

Yep. He had a 1-over 37 on his “back” nine. And he kept going on Tuesday. With the exception of an ugly on 14 on Tuesday — a theme for the tourney — Pesso was Mr. Steady.

“I can’t express how awesome for us this was,” Pesso said. “We really had a couple of good rounds, all of us.”

Dylan dialed in

Hardenbergh did do more in Sterling than get the bag for Barron. The sophomore is a cool customer.

He was a little all over the place in his first-round 84. But golf is all about adjustments.

“I just knew, a lot of times, I was coming up short of the greens,” the sophomore said. “There was a lot of wind above the trees. I just started clubbing up.”

And out came a very nice 77 on Tuesday.

“Right before regionals, I started getting my driver to go straight,” Hardenbergh said. “Keeping it in play helps a lot.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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