Basalt wins AHS golf invite, Aspen’s Pevny shoots low round with regionals up next

The Aspen Golf Club was set up to test players on Monday, with long holes, tricky pin placements and fast greens. And that’s the sort of situation the Basalt High School boys golf team has learned to thrive in this season.

“I loved it. It was a good simulation of what we look at come regionals and state. It was nice for the boys to get a feel for a tougher set up,” BHS coach Joe Fries said. “It was just a grind. And my guys, they are grinders. They don’t give up. They all got off to a terrible start and they made some good adjustments and just kind of grinded their way to the victory.”

Playing Monday at the Skiers Invitational hosted by Aspen High School, Basalt battled through the difficulties to shoot a collective 247 to win the team title, a rarity for the Longhorns on Aspen’s home course. Summit finished second with 253, while Aspen was third with 254.

“Basalt played a great round of golf on a tough course. Three of their guys were clustered right there and they beat us, fair and square,” AHS coach Mary Woulfe said. “It’s great to see. They played smart and they played well and they beat us.”

While BHS did take home the team win, Aspen junior Nic Pevny finished with the low round of the day, shooting 4-over 75 to win the tournament by two strokes over Summit’s Ryley Cibula. Summit’s Tyler Nakos was third with 79, Basalt’s Garrett Exelbert fourth with 80 and Basalt’s Tyler Sims fifth with 82.

Pevny, who is on the short list of potential individual 3A state champions this fall, only returned home around 3 a.m. the night before after recently competing in a national tournament.

“I’m really, really proud of how well he played today,” Woulfe said. “That’s a tough go to have done that. The first nine holes the pin placement was pretty tricky and tough. He played it well.”

For the Skiers, Monday’s tournament was the final 18 holes of a 36-hole qualifier to see who would make their regional tournament team. AHS had previously played two nine-hole rounds at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, which will host next week’s regional, and combined that with the scores Monday to determine the four-man squad. Pevny and senior Jake Doyle, who tied for 11th Monday with 86, are locked in. The final two spots are, at this moment, going to Andrew Vallone and Cole Kennedy, with John Hall being the next golfer out.

“That sort of sums up my dilemma for the season, is who to play when and where and how,” Woulfe said of how competitive it’s been for those four regional spots. “I would have thought it would have been a little more definitive, but it just goes to show the camaraderie these guys have and how much they play together and they know each other’s games well.”

Basalt is still trying to lock in its regional team, as well. Exelbert and Sims are certainly headed to RVR, the Longhorns’ home course, with Kyle Murray likely being the third. Sam Sherry, a first-year golfer who normally plays football, and Braden Exelbert also are in the mix. Braden, Garrett’s older brother, did not play Monday because of school testing.

Teams don’t have to submit their regional lineup until Friday.

Garrett Exelbert, a freshman, has arguably established himself as the team’s most consistent golfer this season, although Sims, a senior with plenty of state experience, is right there. Garrett Exelbert got off to a rocky start Monday, going 6 over through five holes, but finished only 1 over on the back nine to finish fourth overall.

“He hits his driver as far as some of these kids hit their 4 irons, but the kid is just a magician with his wedge and he makes a lot of putts,” Fries said of Garrett. “I could tell he was getting down, but when I talk about our mentality as grinders, he just epitomizes that.”

The regional at RVR is scheduled for next Tuesday, Sept. 22. Neither team’s regional players will compete in another tournament before then. AHS is sending another group of varsity players to Vail this Tuesday, while Wednesday’s tournament at Dos Rios in Gunnison was canceled.

Dos Rios, which is slated to host the Class 3A state tournament Oct. 5 and 6, was hit hard by last week’s storms and was forced to call off the regular season tournament there. As of Monday, expectation is Dos Rios will be ready to host the state tournament as planned.