Aspen High boys golf wins its first state title behind Jack Hughes, Jack Pevny

BOULDER — Jack Pevny wanted to know the score. Don Buchholz wasn’t going to clue him in.

Maybe this was cruel, but there was a lot on the line for the Aspen High School boys golf team. At least, the idea was to make sure Pevny believed his final few shots were crucial.

“Jack was asking me walking up 18 if he made par would we still win as a team, and I did not want to tell him where we stood,” said Buchholz, the team’s assistant coach. “I just wanted him to keep playing his own game and he did, and he made par here on 18.”

Pevny knocked in his short par putt and didn’t have to wonder anymore, as only moments later the rest of the AHS golf team mobbed him on the edge of the 18th green to celebrate the best moment in the program’s history. It was Pevny’s putt that put to bed the team title for the Class 3A state golf tournament at Boulder Country Club, which ended with the Skiers winning their first state championship.​

“It’s crazy. We’ve been talking about it for so long,” Pevny, a junior, said later. “Since the beginning of the season we knew this was a real possibility. For it to finally happen and become reality, it’s a better feeling than I ever could have imagined. It’s incredible.”

In the end, Pevny’s final putt didn’t mean much. Sure, it secured him a fourth-place finish and all-state honors, but he had plenty of room for error as far as the team standings were concerned. Leading by only a stroke over Kent Denver after the first day, the Skiers rolled to a nine-stroke win over the Sun Devils, who were looking for a state record 10th championship in boys golf.

Instead, Aspen shut down that possibility to finally get their first. The Skiers had been close before, finishing second as recently as 2011 (to Kent Denver, of all teams), but it took this particular group to get over that hump.

“There were several times when we were right there in first place coming down the stretch and couldn’t close it,” said AHS head coach Mary Woulfe, who has led either the boys or girls teams for the better part of 15 years. “There were multiple years where we were, ‘What can we do to get there? What do we need to get there?’ It took the dedication of four guys that were just outstanding players and really committed at the national level.”

While the race for the team title was never close down the stretch, the individual title was neck-and-neck the entire way. Near the turn, five players were tied with the lead, with Pevny among the leaders from the start. Kent Denver’s Jackson Klutznick ended up taking top honors after knocking in three straight birdies on the back nine to finish the tournament at 1-under.

Aspen senior Jack Hughes, who is committed to play for the University of Colorado, ended up second at 2-over (72-70). Peak to Peak’s Davis Long, the 2017 3A state champion, finished third at 3-over, with Pevny (68-76) and Prospect Ridge’s Walker Franklin (71-73) both shooting 4-over on the par 70 course. Eaton’s Peter Grossenbacher, who shot 65 on Monday and had the lead after Round 1, fell apart after a double bogey on the second hole Monday to shoot 82 for the round and finish in a tie for 10th overall.

Aspen finished 14-over as a team, while Kent Denver was 23-over. Holy Family was third at 37-over, while Basalt was sixth at 64-over.

“It’s so satisfying. Coming into it, it’s what we worked for,” Hughes said. “This was about four years of waiting. Since freshman year I’ve been wanting to do that. Best feeling I’ve had playing golf, ever.”

Hughes said one of his favorite memories of playing golf for Aspen was watching Will Hazen tie for second at state when Hughes was a freshman. To see it come full circle by taking second as well was as good as it gets for the future Buff.

Senior Dawson Holmes rounded out the scoring for the Skiers, finishing 8-over (74-74) to come in 13th place. Fellow senior Dominic Lanese, one of the team’s better golfers all season, struggled both days. He finished 32nd at 23-over.

“We knew we could do it, it was just a matter of executing and we went out and got it done. It’s a good feeling,” Holmes said. “It was pretty surreal. We have always been really dominant in regionals and we always came down here and played well — I’m not saying we played bad — but this is the first year we’ve really driven it home and been able to capitalize down here against the entire state.”

Pevny was in third after Round 1 and played in the final grouping Tuesday, but couldn’t keep pace with Klutznick, who only shot 2-over in that second round. Still, Woulfe said it was Pevny’s early play Tuesday that got in the head of players like Grossenbacher and paved the way for Aspen’s team victory.

“He put incredible pressure on them with his drives and the two of them had to do something to get back,” Woulfe said. “Maybe he didn’t hold on, but it meant the world to getting off to a good start and showing we were going to be dominant. It set a precedent.”