Vail Valley preps: Battle Mountain golfers make the cut
MONTROSE – They don’t ask how. They only ask whether.
They should also ask weather, but that’s not important right now. It was a very difficult day for scoring at the 4A/3A regional golf tournament at Cobble Creek in Montrose with heavy rain the previous night and then lots of wind Tuesday.
But 81 was the magic number for Battle Mountain’s Dillon McDonald and Michael Wilhelm. The two finished in a four-way tie for seventh in the individual qualifying portion of the tournament and are headed to the state tournament in two weeks at the Flying Horse Country Club down in Colorado Springs.
“It’s awesome,” McDonald said. “It was not pretty and I don’t know how I did it. I didn’t want to finish my round.”
It’s the first state appearance for both McDonald and Wilhelm.
“I’m definitely really glad I made it,” said Wilhelm. “It was just a grind today. I couldn’t get anything done.”
Brady McDonald was Battle Mountain’s third with an 82. He fell out of the running for a spot as an alternate in the second hole of that playoff. That left Battle Mountain with a team score of 244 behind Montezuma-Cortez (229) and Montrose (232). Eagle Valley was seventh with 257.
Meanwhile in the 3A standings, first-year Vail Christian finished sixth out of 13 tams with 274.
Two for the show
And to think Wilhelm shot a 72 at Cobble Creek during a regular-season tournament earlier this month. Like the game of golf itself, the weather is a fickle thing. Scoring conditions were perfect at the course a few weeks ago – Wilhelm finished fourth with his 72 that day and Montrose’s Drew Trujillo won Tuesday with a 73.
“(Monday) night, there was a heavy rain, and when we started at 9 a.m., it was a really wet course,” Vail Christian coach Jeremy Lowe said. “At around noon, the wind kicked up and the course dried out. In effect, it was two different courses – one in the morning and one in the early afternoon.”
Throw in some tricky pin placements and the fact that the greens were rolled Monday night, and regionals at Cobble Creek turned into the U.S. Open.
Dillon McDonald had major issues putting – 39 strokes, to be exact with his Odyssey flat blade. That said putter did not end up in the actual Cobble Creek is testament to his composure, but it still did seem understandably to affect his game.
“I just couldn’t putt,” McDonald said. “I hit nine greens on the front and three on the back. I was hitting off the tee well.”
Wilhelm, who’s been working with Tom Apple of the Country Club of the Rockies all season, had one of those days that all golfers, regardless of ability, have. He just wasn’t on. Normally good for multiple birdies in a round, he had no circles on his card Tuesday.
“I thought I was right about at (the number for qualifying),” Wilhelm said about playing the 18th Tuesday. “I wanted a birdie. I was just trying to put myself in good position with my tee shot, which I did, and then I duffed my second shot, and made bogey. I think last year 81 was the number, so I had a good feeling about it.”
This is the second year in a row that the Huskies qualified two for state. Last fall, Cameron Brown won the tournament and Brady McDonald qualified.
“By the looks of things, I think golf gods were looking after us a bit,” Huskies coach Cassie Desmone said.
Saints, Bowles shine
Vail Christian likely had a good ride home, one made a little shorter by the Saints’ success.
The first-year program finished sixth out of a field of 13 teams, and Vail Christian’s Robbie Bowles shot an 87 and is the region’s second alternate for the state tournament.
Parker Poague had an 88 and Jordan Mesch finished with a 99.
“Tournament golf is different than playing 18 with your friends,” Lowe said. “How they stood up to the challenge speaks to their character.”
And since all three of the Saints’ scorers are underclassmen, the future for Vail Christian golf looks rosy.
In the meantime, Bowles is in a holding pattern. Just two years ago, Eagle Valley’s Bryan Brennan was the first alternate for the 4A region, and he did get the magical call to state. Being second alternate may prove more difficult, but one never knows.
“I think we’ll approach it at the time,” Lowe said. “It’s an honor for him to be an alternate. We’ll just enjoy that for now. If it comes, we’ll be really thankful. If not, we’re grateful he had the opportunity.”
For Eagle Valley, The Tin Men – Austin Fahrenholtz (83) and Dustin Arguello (85) – were just on the outside looking in. Tanner Coulter was the Devils’ third in 89.
Vail Mountain was led by Harrison Alonzo who shot a 90.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.