Aspen’s Walla takes 7th at state tourney
Aspen Times Staff Writer
In extreme golfing weather – 40-degree temperatures and soggy, rainy conditions – Aspen High sophomore Kristin Walla put together two solid rounds to tie for seventh place Tuesday in the Class 4A Colorado High School State Championship at Arvada’s West Woods Golf Course.
The finish marks Walla’s second top-10 finish at the state championship, following an eighth-place finish last year as a freshman.
Regina Rodrigues of Fort Morgan won the tournament with a score of (75-79) 154, two strokes ahead of Mullen’s Ashley Tait.
The 17-year-old Walla finished with a 165, with rounds of 84 and 81.
Walla, the two-time defending Class 4A Western Regional Champion, was forced to change shoes and socks midway through Monday’s first round, which was described by AHS coach Laura Curry as “less than perfect.”
“Forty degrees, rainy and cold and miserable; full-on umbrellas the whole way around, so golf was difficult,” Curry said.
“It was a great effort for Kristin,” the coach continued. “There’s some great Denver teams here and we weren’t sure how she would do against those girls because she’s been playing on the Western Slope, but she’s still right at the top, top-10.
“And if you ask me, I’d say she played well. If you ask her, she might say, ‘Ah, I could’ve played better.’ But we’ve got two more years with her!”
Walla’s 84 on Monday placed in the third threesome for Tuesday’s final round, where she shaved three strokes off her first-round score.
“I was definitely frustrated with my game at times, but luckily I kept it in the top 10 and I’m happy with that,” Walla said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Monday “was quite a day, difficult first round,” Walla continued. “It was like getting sprayed with mist all day, consistently, and it was light enough that you could stand without an umbrella, but it wasn’t comfortable.
“But the strong players really came through. My first score sort of kept me in the running and I stayed in the last three groups and ended up about the same place.”
Walla’s classmate and teammate, Liz Floyd, was the only other AHS player to qualify for the state tournament in the inaugural year of Aspen High’s girls golf team. Previously, the team played under the combined Aspen-Basalt-Roaring Fork flag.
Floyd finished 25th with a score of 190, a 96 and a 94.
“It was tremendous for Liz,” Curry said. “I think last year she came in 75th.”
Curry, who works with the junior golf program at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, said she expects to see Walla’s scores drop into the 70s this summer, and Floyd’s average dip down into the 80s.
“They’ve got great games and both are capable of that with work,” Curry said.
Meanwhile, Aspen High did not post a team score because three players are required to amass a team score. Next year, Curry hopes to see that change, too.
“We’re not far from being there,” she said. “The sad thing for some schools is that a lot of their players are graduating this year, but that’s not the case with us. And we’ve got some good players coming up through the ranks.”
Walla said she expects to face a similar field of competitors next year, however, as only two or three of the top-10 finishers were seniors.
“A lot of the top players are my age, so I’ll be seeing more of them, a lot of them, in the next couple years,” Walla said.
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The camp not only let the players shake the rust off, but it opened a window into the soul of Michael Goerne. A Minnesota native, Goerne moved to Carbondale soon after graduating from Marist College in New York and is largely credited for the massive growth of lacrosse in the valley.