Nic Pevny becomes Aspen High School’s first individual state champion in golf
1. Nic Pevny, Aspen 69-71—140
2. Thayer Plewe, Montezuma 70-73—143
3. Connor Downey, Vail Christian 72-75—147
T4. Tayleb Schaefer, Sterling 74-74—148
T4. Luke Calvin, St. Mary’s 76-72—148
1. Colorado Academy, 456
2. St. Mary’s, 461
3. Kent Denver, 462
4. Sterling, 464
5. Vail Mountain, 469
6. Lutheran, 478
7. Aspen, 479
The back nine played as long as any ever had for Nic Pevny. Yes, a lot of it had to do with slower groups in front, but the rest was about his march toward the Aspen High School history books.
“It felt like that back nine was going on for so long, because we had to wait on like every tee box,” the junior said. “It felt really good to make the final putt and have it be all over.”
Entering this year’s Class 3A state golf tournament, held at Dos Rios Golf Club in Gunnison, no Aspen golfer had ever been crowned the best of the best. That changed Tuesday when Pevny held off two other challengers to win the 36-hole contest to become the first individual state champion in the history of AHS boys golf.
Pevny shot a collective 140 over the two days, finishing at 2-under-par to win by three strokes over Montezuma-Cortez’s Thayer Plewe, who along with Kent Denver’s Jeffrey Zhou did their best to challenge Pevny down the stretch.
“He kept it together there while the other guys came on,” longtime AHS golf coach Mary Woulfe said. “Nic was up and Jeffrey Zhou was on his tail and was starting to hit the ball really well and putting really well and then Thayer Plewe was right in the mix there and then Thayer was pushing pretty hard — there was just a lot of pressure on Nic, and he kept staying two strokes ahead of them. Then all of a sudden both those other guys started to falter a little bit and Nic stayed steady.”
Aspen, which won its lone team championship in 2018, finished seventh this fall, shooting 479 over the two days. Kent Denver had the upper hand most of the way until Zhou faltered late and finished third with 462, paving the way for Colorado Academy’s run to the championship with 456. St Mary’s snuck in to finish second with 461.
Basalt only had two players compete and therefore couldn’t record a team score. However, freshman Garrett Exelbert put together a good showing to shoot 74-78 and finish in a tie for 10th overall. BHS senior Tyler Sims tied for 21st; he struggled Monday, shooting 83, but bounced back with a round of 74 on Tuesday.
The Skiers didn’t get a whole lot from their other three golfers, although senior Jake Doyle put together a pair of 13-over 84s to tie for 42nd place. Senior Andrew Vallone went 85-92 to finish in 65th and senior Cole Kennedy went 96-86 to tie for 70th.
Kennedy had an especially rough time at state considering he was hit by a driving range ball during Monday’s first round, a strike that “took him down” and left his status for Tuesday in doubt.
“We weren’t too sure he was even going to be able to play today, but he toughed it out,” Woulfe said after Tuesday’s final round. “It felt really good to see Nic get the job done. It was a great display of golf today and he played a wonderful round.”
Pevny shot 2-under 69 on Monday and held a one-shot lead over Plewe after the first round. Four others, including Zhou, were tied for third with 72. Pevny, Plewe and Zhou played in the final pairing and pulled away from the field about midway through the final round.
Plewe birdied the first and third holes, while Pevny started Tuesday’s round with back-to-back birdies before a bogey on the third hole. Pevny was pretty steady from there, but had a short putt lip out on No. 13 that resulted in a bogey and kept his lead to only a couple shots with five holes to play.
“I was nervous going into hole one, but after I made the two birdies I settled down and I felt more confident about it,” Pevny said.
Pevny essentially iced it on No. 16, a par 5. Pevny’s second shot left him putting for eagle, which he barely missed and tapped in for birdie. Plewe bogeyed that hole and finished par-par, while the 16th was the start of a disastrous finish for Zhou, who followed bogeys on 16 and 17 with a 10 on the par-4 18th to finish the tournament at 8 over and in eighth place.
Pevny tapped in for bogey on the 18th for the championship.
“He tried really hard not to have anyone see him sweat,” Woulfe said of Pevny, who rarely shows much emotion and tends to be among the quieter players on the course. “It really, really feels like the completion all the way around. It was Nic’s time. Nic stood in the shadow behind those guys for a long time.”
Pevny’s title gives Woulfe a long overdue individual champion. The Skiers have had numerous runner-up finishers, mostly recently a second-place from Jack Hughes in 2018. Even Eri Crum, arguably the program’s best golfer, never won an individual championship, and Crum went on to play at Stanford alongside Tiger Woods. Even Pevny’s older brother, Jack Pevny, made a couple good runs at it but came up short before graduating last year.
Now at least one can take claim for having won an individual championship for AHS, and that is the soft spoken and undersized Nic Pevny, who put together a pair of masterful rounds at Dos Rios.
“It feels pretty good knowing all the good players that have come out of here, to be in the history books like that,” he said.
Roaring Fork District schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt are heading into the new school year more fully staffed than in recent years.
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