Tyler Sims leads potent Basalt High School boys golf team into new season

Braden Exelbert hits his approach shot during regionals last fall at Aspen Golf Club. He's one of three returning state qualifers for the Basalt High School boys golf team this season.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Beating the coach is typically a good sign for any player. And if there is anyone Basalt High School boys golf coach Joseph Fries is probably happy losing to, it’s one of his own athletes.

Case in point, senior Tyler Sims, who gave Fries all he could handle earlier this week.

“I played with Tyler (Wednesday) and he beat me for the first time, ever, I think. He looks great,” Fries said. “He’s in a good place. He got a new set of clubs. He’s grown a little bit, so I think he can do some damage. But our team depth is really incredible.”

The Longhorns, entering their third season under Fries, open their season Friday at Cedaredge. Boys golf is one of only four sports — along with boys tennis, softball and cross country — allowed to play somewhat as normal this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Because of sports like football and boys soccer being postponed to the spring, BHS had around 30 players come out for golf tryouts this week. Fries said they will field a 10-man varsity team this fall, as well as a full junior varsity squad.

“They are all pretty darn good,” Fries said. “I got high hopes for this team. Our fifth player could post our lowest score. That is something that is so valuable, having some depth in case one kid has a bad day.”

Sims is expected to lead the bunch. He’s been to state with the Longhorns the past two years, tying for 33rd as a sophomore before finishing 29th as a junior to lead BHS in scoring.

Basalt finished 10th as a team in Class 3A last fall. Of that four-man team, only Blake Exelbert graduated. Sims and juniors Kyle Murray and Braden Exelbert all return.

“He’s our only senior and I would have been really upset if he didn’t get the chance to play his senior year. I expect him to do really well this year,” Fries said of Sims. “I knew we would have something with the kids coming back, because a lot of this is experience and being comfortable out there. But they are all playing well. They’ve all gotten better.”

Among the wildcards could be junior Sam Sherry, a standout on the football field who decided to take up golf this fall with the adjusted sports calendar because of COVID-19. And what Fries has seen so far has him believing Sherry could make as much noise on the links as he could on the gridiron.

How he, and the rest of the players, handles the real deal come Friday will say a lot.

“He’s raw. If we get him putting the ball, he could probably compete with Tyler,” Fries said. “It’s a different game when you get out there and you see the scorecard and you see your name somewhere and you’re playing kids you’ve never met.”

Following Cedaredge and a trip to Montrose next week, Basalt is scheduled to host a tournament on Aug. 18 at River Valley Ranch near Carbondale. Should the current schedule hold, RVR also will host regionals in September.

“That is a huge advantage for us,” Fries said. “The greens are just tricky greens. They don’t break the proper way they look. And I think a little bit of home-field advantage there will be huge.”


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