Youthful Devils slip past field at regionals |

Youthful Devils slip past field at regionals

Ryan Slabaugh

Junior Erin Sterkel and sophomores Charly Hoehn and Miranda Cox controlled the windswept Dos Rios Golf Club, setting the pace for the 11-team field with a narrow one-stroke victory. Montrose, for the second time this season, finished runner-up to the Devils by the smallest of margins.

“It was not very favorable conditions for golf,” said Devils instructor Eric Bradley, a pro at Cotton Ranch. “They play in the wind all the time. They play one of the toughest golf courses on the Western Slope. While the bad weather brought the other scores up, we stayed right where we normally are.”

A single stroke kept Hoehn, who finished third with an 88, from clinching medalist honors. Hoehn and Cox, who shot a 103, will be competing at the state tournament Monday and Tuesday for the first time.

“I started out playing pretty well,” Hoehn said. “When I doubled a hole, I birdied the next one. I was up and down all day.”

With Cox, who started the year on the junior varsity team, stepping up with a timely 103, Bradley couldn’t have been more satisfied with the team’s performance.

“We had our score and were waiting for two girls from Montrose to come in,” Bradley said. “They came in with a 93 and a 92 and that got us the win. I was impressed with their play. They came through in the clutch.”

Sterkel, who shot a 93 and finished sixth, was on last year’s experienced state qualifying squad, which points to what might be the most remarkable thing about this year’s team – its youth. The three underclassmen leaders were on the bubble of last year’s program-enhancing third-place finish at state. The Devils lost Alli Toomer and Joanie Ewing, who picked up silver medalist honors at state last season. The team, in its sixth year as a program, was supposed to be rebuilding.

The Devils’ trio proved everyone foolish. Hoehn steadily improved all season, while Sterkel anchored the team and Cox slowly but surely moved her way into the top three.

The Devils will travel Sunday to Windsor and practice the Ptarmigan Country Club, known for its long par 5’s and dotted with more than 80 bunkers. Whatever they come away with, either a state championship or just the experience, their future looks as bright as the present.

“It’s looking pretty good for next season,” Cox said.

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