Aspen’s Walla ties for fourth at state tourney
Aspen High junior Kristin Walla fell off the leader’s pace Tuesday in the Class 4A girls golf state championships, finishing in a two-way tie for fourth place at the Colorado Springs Country Club.
Walla, 17, entered Tuesday’s second and final round in a five-way tie for the lead after shooting a 5-over par round of 77 on Monday.
On Tuesday, Walla shot an 81 to drop back to fourth place.
Mullen junior Ashley Tait, one of the five leaders from Monday, shot a scorching 74 on Tuesday to capture her second state title. Tait, who played in a threesome with Walla and Pueblo Central’s Nicole Madrid on Tuesday, won the state championship as a freshman in 2002.
According to Aspen High girls golf coach Andy Scrivner, Tait “started off really well, got in the groove and stayed in it. She didn’t really make any mistakes at all.”
Walla, meanwhile, “just wasn’t able to string good shots and good holes together,” he said.
“Every time she struggled she’d come back with a good shot but then it was more of a save situation,” Scrivner continued. “But it was great for her to play with Ashley because she’s a really strong player, a great competitor, and Kristin doesn’t see too many players like her on the Western Slope.”
Walla, the three-time defending Class 4A Western Slope regional tournament champion, finished seven strokes back from Tait, who shot a combined 151 to Walla’s 158.
Karen Wanersdorfer of Cheyenne Mountain finished second with a 36-hole total of 155, followed by Estes Park’s Dawn Shockley with a 157. Pueblo South’s Sarah Ruybalid finished in a tie with Walla at 158.
As a freshman, Walla finished eighth in the Class 4A state tournament and last year she improved to finish in a tie for seventh. Still, with this year’s improvement, coach Scrivner said the lone Aspen High representative at the state tournament was disappointed.
“On the front nine, Kristin and Ashley were going back and forth at each other, but the wheels started coming off on the back nine a little bit,” he said. “But the margin of victory seemed much smaller than it actually was.
“And since Kristin’s expectations for her game, as well as everybody else who knows her, are so high, she feels like she can beat anybody and we feel like she can beat anybody. So there was some disappointment that she wasn’t able to play her best. To finish top-10 in the state for the third straight year is great, but given some of Kristin’s expectations, obviously it was disappointing.
“One good thing is that we can continue to watch Kristin improve, whether it’s by her placement at the state tournament or her scoring average,” Scrivner continued. “And that’s the great thing about high school athletics, you’re able to chart your improvement in different ways. And again, that bar is going to be set even higher for her next year as a senior.”
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This decision is part of a game plan to focus on giant slalom and slalom in the early part of season. Shiffrin will likely also pass on a speed stop in Val d’Isere from Dec. 18-20.