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Aspen High golfers `fired up’ for states

Tim Mutrie

For the first time in seven years, the Aspen High School boys golf team will play for a chance at the state title in the 4A division, as well as individual titles.

Aspen seniors Colt Hartrich and Cameron Wenzel and juniors Patrick McLennan and Nate Walla will compete against 80 other golfers in the state tournament at Carbondale’s River Valley Ranch Golf Course beginning Monday morning. After two rounds of play are finished Tuesday, a championship team will be crowned (based on teams’ top three rounds each day), as well as the ten top individual players.

“The kids are fired up,” said Aspen coach Alden Richards, who coaches the team along with Doug Rohrbaugh. “We’re ready to go.”

Earlier this season, on Aug. 15, the Aspen golf team broke an eight-year drought by winning a high school invitational tournament in Grand Junction. On Sept. 5, the team repeated the feat, hosting and winning another invitational at the Aspen Municipal Golf Course.

On Sept. 20, the Aspen team qualified for states with a second-place finish at the one-round, all-or-nothing Western Slope Regional Tournament in Grand Junction.

“The kids were out [at the Aspen Golf Course] practicing on their lunch break [yesterday],” said Richards. “They played a practice round at River Valley Ranch Tuesday and they’re playing there again Sunday. They’re working out every day; they’re really putting their hearts into the preparation for this tournament.”

Basalt High School golfer Devon Child will also be competing in the state tournament. While the Basalt team did not qualify for states, Child’s fifth-place round of 79 at the Western Slope Regional Tournament qualified him to play in the individual competition.

Valley competitors do enjoy a unique advantage playing at the familiar River Valley Ranch Course, but they’ll still have to be at the top of their game to do well against the best in the state, Richards noted.

“It’s two rounds, so you’ve got to play hard for two days,” Richards said. “I’m just trying to keep the kids focusing on one shot at a time – not one shot ahead or behind.”

“The course is a great golf design and it puts a premium on putting because the course itself is pretty self-explanatory,” Richards continued. “You see what you get there. I think a lot is going to come down to the short game; that’s where the kids have been focusing.”

On Monday, Walla tees off with the first foursome at 8:30 a.m. Wenzel tees off with the second group at 8:39 a.m. The foursome with Patrick McLennan and Basalt’s Devon Child tees off at 9:24 a.m. Colt Hartrich’s group tees off at 11:12 a.m.

In order to pair the leaders together for the second and final round Tuesday, Tuesday’s groupings and tee times will not be finalized until play Monday is completed.


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