Pevny leads Aspen boys golf to regional championship, Basalt sends two to state
1. Aspen 236
2. Vail Mountain 241
3. Vail Christian 242
4. Basalt 246
5. Holy Family 247
1. Nic Pevny, Aspen 73
2. Ross Anderson, Vail Christian 75
3. Jackson Grace, Holy Family 76
4. Connor Downey, Vail Christian 77
T5. Garrett Exelbert, Basalt 78
T5. Tiki Jaffe, Vail Mountain 78
Last season, the Aspen High School boys golf team saw its 10-year reign as regional champion end when it finished as runner-up on its home course. Tuesday, the Skiers returned to the top when they took down host Basalt at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale to make it 11 regional titles in 12 years.
“Really great outcome. I feel terrible for the Basalt team. They had a very good season and they really struggled to come in on their home course. I know what that feels like,” AHS coach Mary Woulfe said. “Surprise isn’t the right word, because these kids have worked so hard. It’s just it was literally a team effort.”
Aspen junior Nic Pevny led the way, as he has all season, by shooting 1-over-par 73 to win the individual regional title by two strokes over Vail Christian’s Ross Anderson. Holy Family’s Jackson Grace was third with 76, followed by Vail Christian’s Connor Downey in fourth with 77.
Pevny is Aspen’s first regional champion since 2018, when Jack Hughes won it as a senior at Dos Rios in Gunnison. The Skiers won the Class 3A state championship that season at Boulder Country Club, the program’s lone team title. That team included then-junior Jack Pevny, Nic’s older brother.
“He’s just a joy to watch. He is just a steady kid. He knows the game. He is methodical. You can see him thinking through each shot,” BHS coach Joe Fries said of Nic Pevny. “I want to congratulate Aspen. What a gritty bunch of boys. Mary did a wonderful job with that team this year.”
Aspen shot a collective 236, while Vail Mountain School finished second with 241. Both teams qualified for the 3A state tournament, which is Oct. 5 and 6 at Dos Rios, meaning they’ll get to send all four players to Gunnison.
Just missing out as a team was Vail Christian, which finished third and only a shot back of VMS. Basalt, one of the pre-tournament favorites playing on its home course, shot 246 to finish fourth, a shot ahead of Holy Family in fifth. Gunnison and Moffat County tied for sixth.
The Longhorns still had two players qualify for state as individuals in freshman Garrett Exelbert and senior Tyler Sims. Exelbert tied for fifth with 78, while Sims tied for ninth with 81. Juniors Braden Exelbert and Kyle Murray both shot 87 to tie for 23rd, finishing just outside the qualifying cutoff.
Without a third golfer, this means BHS can’t compete for the team title in Gunnison.
“I’m so proud of Kyle and Braden, specifically, because they got better this year,” Fries said. “It just caught up to them. And I’m hoping they learned from this experience just the importance of one shot so that will help them next year.”
Aspen senior Jake Doyle shot 81 to tie for ninth, while senior teammate Andrew Vallone shot 82 to tie for 12th. Vallone was the team’s biggest surprise on the day, providing a strong third score that put the Skiers over the top. Senior Cole Kennedy was Aspen’s fourth player, shooting 86 to tie for 19th.
“That was amazing,” Doyle said of winning the regional title. “I don’t feel like anyone thought it was going to be us. Everyone thought it was going to be Basalt. But Nic played really well, and so did Andrew and even Cole.”
Despite being the youngest of the four, Pevny is the only AHS player among the regional squad who has been to state. As a sophomore last season, he tied for fourth at 8-over (75-77). He was the team’s sixth golfer and did not compete at state as a freshman when it won the state championship.
Pevny had another strong showing Tuesday, playing on a course he shot 65 at during a practice round last week. He had a handful of putts lip out on him at the regional, keeping him over par for the round, but was steady enough to hold off any challengers. He’s finished no worse than in a tie for first at each of his tournaments this season.
“Today was pretty good. The front nine, I just missed a couple of short putts, but hung in there and ended up getting the win, so that was good,” Pevny said. “It felt good to beat Basalt. They beat us in most tournaments this year, but we put together three pretty solid scores today, so that was good.”
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