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High `states’ golfing

Tim Mutrie Aspen Times Sportswriter

Talk about thriving under pressure.

When the Aspen High School varsity golf team traveled to Gunnison Wednesday to play in the 20-team Western Slope regional tournament, one round of golf would determine which two teams would advance to the state tournament.

Aspen’s two outright tournament victories and other top finishes during the regular season counted for naught.

“You have to put it all on the line that day,” coach Doug Rohrbaugh said Thursday. “You’ve only got one round to make it to state.”

And the Skier team delivered. Led by senior Colt Hartrich and junior Pat McLennan, who both tied for fifth in the individual standings with 8-over-par 79s, Aspen took second at regionals to earn the team’s first trip to the state tournament in at least seven years. Senior Cameron Wenzel shot an 82 to round out the Skiers’ cumulative score of 240, seven strokes behind top finisher Rifle.

“I’m very excited,” said Rohrbaugh, the 10-year coach of the Aspen golf team. “The boys showed this year that they had the potential to do it, and they came through. They proved that the way they played all season is the kind of team that they are.”

Prior to this season, the Aspen golf team hadn’t won a tournament outright in eight years.

“We have three seniors on the team,” Rohrbaugh continued, including Hartrich and Wenzel. “I told them a couple years ago that if they put their minds to it, they had the ability to do it, and they worked hard enough to do it. They deserve the credit.”

And at states, which will be held Oct. 2-3 at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, the Skier team will enjoy a unique home-court advantage.

“We’re very excited about that,” Rohrbaugh said. “Being in our backyard makes it very comfortable.”

Aside from McLennan, whose family moved to Aspen this summer, all of the Skier golfers have played the course before.

“We hope to get out there and play a few more rounds before the tournament,” Rohrbaugh added. “I really don’t know much about the competition from around the state at the 3A and 4A level, but I’d have to say I like our chances.”

Whereas regional tournaments are based on one round of golf, states at River Valley Ranch will be determined after two rounds, on Oct. 2 and 3.

“That gives everyone a little more leeway,” Rohrbaugh said.


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