Basalt boys golf starts season Friday under new coach Joseph Fries |

Basalt boys golf starts season Friday under new coach Joseph Fries

When Joseph Fries became a teacher last year, adding coach to his title seemed inevitable. It just made too much sense for the new Basalt High School boys golf coach.

“I kind of always had a feeling I would end up in some sort of realm in coaching,” Fries said. “As soon as I started thinking about becoming a teacher, the thought definitely crossed my mind. I have a 9-month-old at home and a 3-year-old, so I’m pretty busy as it is, but it was good timing for me.”

Fries, who teaches English and journalism at Glenwood Springs High School and lives in Willits, replaced Kenny Doerrer as the Longhorn coach. The BHS golf team is a joint team between the downvalley schools and includes many GSHS players.

A native of Chicago, Fries calls teaching his “third career.” He previously worked as a PGA professional in Chicago and Miami Beach before earning his degree in journalism. He once reported on the PGA Tour and recently spent a few years working for The Durango Herald as a sports writer before moving into teaching.

The Longhorns recently held a pair of nine-hole tryouts at Ironbridge Golf Club and will get their season underway Friday at Devil’s Thumb in Delta. Aspen High School also is playing Friday in Delta.

“I’m impressed not so much with the number of good shots I’ve seen them hit, but I haven’t seen a lot of bad shots,” Fries said of the tryouts. “They kept it together pretty well. I was impressed. Especially for young kids, it’s nerve-wracking out there.”

Senior Holden Kleager, who attends GSHS, will lead the Longhorns into the fall. He’s been to the state tournament multiple times already and is the younger brother of former standout Linc Kleager, a 2017 Glenwood graduate, who played last season for NAIA Doane University in Nebraska.

Also back is GSHS junior Blake Exelbert, who went to state for the first time last fall. He is the team’s top returning performer from last year’s state tournament, where he shot 13-over 85 in the one-day event to finish tied for 49th. Kleager shot 88 to finish tied for 61st last year.

The BHS golf team is replacing graduates Drew Broadhurst and Tanner Korn, who rounded out the four-player team that finished 10th in Class 3A last fall. Broadhurst led the Longhorns at state in 2017, shooting 8-over 80 to tie for 27th.

Filling in will be sophomore Tyler Sims of Basalt, who clearly earned the No. 3 spot. Junior Jacob Fowler of GSHS beat Basalt freshman Kyle Murray with a birdie on the final hole to land the No. 4 spot, at least for now.

“Kenny did a heck of a job with these guys. They have really good etiquette,” Fries said of the former coach. “He kind of set the table nicely for me and I just hope I can keep the kids on the right track.”

After Friday’s tournament in Delta, BHS is looking at a busy second week with a Tuesday trip to Redlands Mesa in Grand Junction, a Wednesday trip to Gypsum Creek and then a trip to the Skiers’ home tournament Aug. 17 at Aspen Golf Club.