Freshman Persson continues to guide the AHS girls golf team as regionals near
Skiers hosted their home tourney Monday at Aspen Golf Club
Shannon Worth isn’t about to put any extra stress on her star freshman than is necessary. After all, Lenna Persson, who is having a standout rookie campaign with the Aspen High School girls golf team, set her own bar and it’s already pretty high.
“She’s never satisfied. She knows what she is capable of, and she is capable of more,” said Worth, the team’s second-year head coach, after Monday’s tournament at Aspen Golf Club. “We can get in trouble by saying we expect this, or this outcome, this score. It’s tricky with golf. But also, I do appreciate that she has high expectations for herself. I don’t think I have to give her more pressure.”
Persson, who started golfing when she was 7 and competing across the state when she was 12, has been a consistent force for the Skiers this spring, finishing top five on a regular basis. This included Monday in the team’s lone home tournament, where she shot 84 to tie for second place despite incredibly windy conditions on course.
Eagle Valley senior Kylee Hughes won with 79, while Steamboat Springs freshman Kaitlyn Grommeck matched Persson with 84.
“It wasn’t horrible,” Persson said of the wind. “Most of my shots I knew to club up and on Aspen you definitely don’t want to be over the green. So I was like, ‘OK, it’s fine to be short.’ So it kind of worked out for the most part. Just the wind kind of bothered me on my putting and chipping.”
Aspen shot 306 collectively to finish fifth as a team in a field of mostly larger Class 4A schools. Eagle Valley won with 276, followed in second by Rifle’s 288 and in third by Palisade’s 290. Battle Mountain was fourth with 296.
Freshman Audrey Woodrow was second for the Skiers behind Persson, shooting 104 to tie for 18th place. Junior Jade Hanson shot 118 to finish 29th as the third scoring member, while freshman Colby Vanderaa wasn’t far back with 121 and in a tie for 31st place.
“I thought they showed great resiliency, and most of them shot some of their best scores, for the season at least,” Worth said. “They were low scores for a windy day, for sure. It was our best team score of the season. Lenna and Audrey led the pack, with some great leadership. For the season I would say this was a peak, which you want to do at your home tournament.”
Having a standout freshman lead the team isn’t anything new for the Skiers. Only last spring, it was then-freshman Brooke O’Sullivan who led the way, eventually finishing 10th at the Class 3A state tournament in Pueblo. O’Sullivan is out this spring as she recovers from a knee injury she suffered over the winter playing basketball, but was still seen as part of the team’s cheering squad on Monday.
It’s difficult for Worth and even the players themselves to not be excited about the potential the team will have when both Persson and O’Sullivan are on course at the same time. Throw in the rest of the youth, and AHS girls golf finds itself as hopeful for the future as it ever has.
“It has been exciting. I’ve always looked forward to the two of them being on the team. It’s nice to have Brooke out here just kind of cheering them all on. The team camaraderie feel is nice to see from such a strong player, too — Lenna and Brooke both,” said Worth, who looks forward to seeing how Persson fares in her first regional tournament in two weeks.
“If it does turn out to be Lenna’s day, I think she can do incredibly well and even surprise some people,” Worth added. “No matter what, I’m proud of the season she’s had so far and the work she puts in and the effort, the wonderful attitude and energy and leadership that she has.”
Aspen has two more regular-season tournaments on the schedule, the first being Tuesday’s trip to Gypsum and then next week’s trip to Grand Junction. The regional tournament has been scheduled for May 24 at Cattails Golf Course in Alamosa, while the Class 3A state tournament will be May 31-June 1 at The Broadlands in Broomfield.
“I’m really excited,” said Persson, who was confident she’ll be able to qualify for the state tournament. “I’m glad that I’ve had some more time to prepare. … I know how to play decent, and I just need to keep a good round going the whole time.”
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Like most high school sports programs across the nation right now, Garfield County athletics directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions. Five years ago vacant positions were filled within just a couple of days.