Exelbert, Sims hope to make some noise for Basalt High golf at state tournament
Dos Rios Golf Club in Gunnison doesn’t play particularly long, and that could play to the strengths of a young golfer like Garrett Exelbert. A freshman on the Basalt High School boys golf team — he actually attends classes at Glenwood Springs High School — Exelbert’s small stature doesn’t lead to much off the tee box, but he can excel everywhere else on the golf course.
“It was nice to see the kid hit driver and actually have a short iron to the hole, which is rare. He hasn’t had that all year. It sets up really nicely for him,” third-year BHS coach Joe Fries said late Sunday. “It’s a shot-makers golf course. The practice round is instrumental in trying to develop a game plan, because you need one for almost each hole out there. It’s a tricky golf course.”
Dos Rios is set to host the Class 3A state tournament on Monday and Tuesday, where Exelbert and senior Tyler Sims will be on hand to represent the Longhorns.
While this will be Exelbert’s first time at state, Sims is a savvy veteran who has played in the season’s finale the past two years. As a sophomore, Sims finished 24-over-par after the two rounds to tie for 33rd at Boulder Country Club. As a junior last fall, he finished 20 over at Eisenhower Golf Course in Colorado Springs to tie for 29th overall.
“He’s hit some shots lately that I’ve never seen him hit. He’s hitting as well as I’ve ever seen him play,” Fries said of Sims. “I know him pretty well. We have a great relationship. And I don’t know what to expect from him, I really don’t. But I know he’s going to try his best. … Whose to say he can’t win?”
Neither player is coming off a particularly great regional tournament, which the Longhorns hosted Sept. 22 at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale. Exelbert did shoot a solid 78 to tie for fifth place, while Sims shot 81 to tie for ninth.
BHS finished fourth as a team at regionals, meaning it only qualified Exelbert and Sims for the state tournament. Without a third golfer, the Longhorns can’t compete for the team title at Dos Rios.
“It didn’t seem like they were any less interested than normal,” Fries said of his two state qualifiers after Sunday’s practice round. “It feels different, it does, because it’s the first time in a few years that we’ve been here where we haven’t had our full team. But they seem ready.”
Exelbert is scheduled to tee off Monday from the 10th hole at 9:18 a.m., while Sims will get on course at 9:36 a.m., also starting on the back nine.
Aspen, which won the regional title at RVR, has all four players competing at state. Junior Nic Pevny, who is among the individual favorites, will tee off at 10:21 a.m. The rest of the lineup includes seniors Cole Kennedy (9 a.m.), Jake Doyle (10:30 a.m.) and Andrew Vallone (10:57 a.m.). All four AHS players will start from hole No. 1.