Vail Mountain School golf team makes state
GUNNISON — Vail Mountain School golf is going to the show and the show happens to be happening at home.
The Gore Rangers finished second at the Class 3A Region 4 Championship on Tuesday at the Dos Rios golf club in Gunnison to qualify for the state tournament in two weeks … that is at Eagle Ranch.
Colorado Academy won going away with 254 strokes, followed by the Gore Rangers at 273.
VMS’ Chloe Pesso (85) Lauren Dirvonas (89) and Carey Salvin (99) all shot career-best rounds on a course that was taking no prisoners on Tuesday. With a 135 slope rating, only 14 players broke the century mark.
“I’m a little blown away,” VMS coach Gary Pesso said. “We had three career rounds with a tough course.”
Water, water everywhere
As the course’s name indicates, Dos Rios, or two rivers, means there’s a ton of water all over the place in Gunnison. VMS overcame a tough practice round on Monday with sterling play on Tuesday.
Even on a good day, trouble comes. It’s how a player deals with it that makes a round.
Chloe Pesso had a triple on No. 4, but steadied it with a par on No. 5.
“It definitely hurt me,” she said. “I knew that I was on a roll and playing well. You just have to play one shot at a time and forget about it. It worked out for the better.”
She played the last five holes of her front nine in 4-over par, which was just fine given the carnage overtaking the rest of the field. She opened the back with two pars and two birdies and was on her way.
The key was not thinking about whether one’s score was good enough to qualify for state.
“The biggest thing was staying in your head space,” Pesso said. “Once you start thinking about other things, it gets difficult to play well. Golf is about playing yourself.”
Dirvonas had consecutive triples on nos. 4 and 5 but settled into par/bogey golf that does it at regionals, be it in the fall with the boys or spring at the girls.
“You have to pretend you don’t have a good memory,” Dirvonas said. “You play every hole and every nine like it’s brand new. You have to have fun and not be competitive.”
Yes, counterintuitive, but true.
To make state, a team needs three, so sophomore Carey Salvin coming home in 99 was huge.
After a long wait as other golfers straggled in, it finally became official — the Gore Rangers finished second and earned a berth to state as a team. And the 3A state golf tournament is in their backyard — Eagle Ranch.
“It is an advantage,” Dirvonas said. “A course plays differently every day. But we are familiar with it.”
4A schools qualify three
Eagle Valley’s Kylee Hughes and Battle Mountain’s Madi Bennett tied for third and the Devils’ Kaitlin Medina tied for 10th during Monday’s Class 4A Region 4 Tournament at Adobe Creek in Fruita.
The three punched their tickets to the 4A state tournament at Pelican Lakes Golf Club in Windsor.
Hughes is a freshman and had four birdies during her round. One of those tweeters came after she had quadrupled the par-3 11th.
“I just shook it off and got a birdie on the next hole,” Hughes said.
If only it were that easy for regular weekend golfers.
Meanwhile, Bennett was crushing her driver, yet struggled with the short game. Despite the short game being where a player usually scores, she had nothing worse than a double on her card, something that suggests some upside in her games.
One day after qualifying for state she was already working on that short game starting with her 54-degree wedge and moving toward the putter.
Bennett went to state last year and hopes to build on the experience.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “You learn a lot about course management and how to keep your numbers low and how to play under pressure. The short game is the most important part of the game.”