Walla wins regional golf title
Aspen Times Staff Writer
In a show of poise well beyond her 15 years, Aspen High freshman Kristin Walla upstaged a pair of seniors to win the Class 4A regional girls golf title Wednesday.
Playing in the last pairing with Moffat County senior Lindsey Scott in the field of 43 girls at the Dos Rios Golf Club in Gunnison, Walla trailed Scott by two strokes with two holes to play. Walla then parred No. 17, while Scott double-bogeyed, and on No. 18, another par 4 into a stiff wind, Walla pulled ahead with a bogey to Scott’s double-bogey.
In the pairing ahead of Walla and Scott, however, Gunnison senior Lindsay Browder managed to finish her round with an 87, matching Walla’s score and forcing a sudden-death playoff for the regional title.
“You don’t really know where you’re at in terms of the other players when you’re out there,” Walla said. “I knew that I was up there, that I’d be qualified for [the state tournament], but I started to lose a little hope because an 87 isn’t a score that usually will win you regionals.
“So when I turned in my scorecard, I was psyched to get into the playoff,” she added.
“It was pretty exciting,” said Alden Richards, coach of the Basalt-Aspen High girls golf team. “The best thing about it, she stuck to her routine all day. She had two bad holes out there but didn’t let them bother her. A couple of the other competitors, they let [bad holes] carry on for a while, but Kristin just forgot about it and went about her business.”
With the title hanging in the balance, Walla and Browder both bogeyed the first playoff hole, a par 4, to push the sudden death to the par-3 second hole. Teeing off second, Walla managed to salvage bogey, while Browder double-bogeyed, giving her the win and the Basalt-Aspen team its second-straight individual title. Aspen’s Ali Crum won the regional tourney last year as a senior.
“It feels awesome,” Walla said. “I’m pretty psyched.”
In just one other career playoff at the high school level, Walla lost to Scott. But this time around, it was different.
“I was like, ‘I know what’s going on, I’ve already been here,’ and that took a little pressure off,” Walla said.
Added Richards: “For a freshman to beat seasoned veterans, walking into the regionals and beating all these kids who were expected to win, is really huge. It gives us three more years to look forward to.”
Walla’s title also helped Basalt-Aspen to a third-place-team finish in the 11-team field, the team’s best result this season. Eagle Valley won the team title with a score of 284, ahead of Montrose (285), then Basalt-Aspen (294).
“All season our team has been lingering around sixth place to eighth place, but the girls shined in this tournament,” Richards said. “And it’s the first time we’ve broken 300 this year.”
In the format for high school tournaments, the top three scores from each team count toward the combined team total.
Aspen freshman Liz Floyd “had her best round ever” with a 98, Richards said, good enough for 10th place overall and a berth to the state tournament. “She bettered her average by 14 shots, and this is a first-year player,” Richards added. “She’s the reason we got third.”
Basalt junior Jessie Smith rounded out the scoring for Basalt-Aspen with a 109, while BHS junior Lydia Fabian shot a 147.
Both Walla and Floyd will compete in the 4A State Tournament slated for Monday and Tuesday at Pelican Lakes Golf Course in the Denver area.
“I’m going in pretty confident,” Walla said. “I definitely know there’s going to be competition like there wasn’t at regionals, and it’s a two-day tournament, and that’s a whole different situation, but I’m looking forward to it.”
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