Maddy Bante claims 2nd straight 3A state title; Erie sweeps 4A championships again, this time with Logan Hale leading the way; and Brenna Higgins prevails in a playoff in 5A
By Gary Baines – 5/31/2023
The girls state high school golf tournaments closed out the month of May on a high note on Wednesday.
Maddy Bante of St. Mary’s Academy joined the two-time state champions club. Meanwhile, another Erie golfer won the 4A title, but not the sophomore who prevailed last year. And a victory for Valor Christian sophomore Brenna Higgins means that all three girls state high school individual champions could very well be back to defend their titles next year.
Bante, a junior, became the 11th girl to capture two or more individual championships in the event. And it wasn’t even close as she cruised to an 11-shot victory in the 3A state meet at Aspen Golf Club — a margin of which even Jennifer Kupcho would have been proud back in her days at Jefferson Academy.
Meanwhile, Hadley Ashton, who claimed the 4A crown last year as a freshman, handed the baton to Erie teammate Logan Hale this year. The junior put together a championship-worthy closing round of 6-under-par 66 and pulled away from the defending champ, winning by eight shots as Erie placed 1-2 at Thorncreek Golf Course in Thornton.
And in the 5A tournament at Black Bear Golf Club in Parker, first-round leader Higgins needed a playoff to prevail over Smoky Hill freshman Sophia Stiwich. The latter hit two tee shots out of bounds in sudden death and conceded the 5A victory to Higgins.
Here’s more details on the three 36-hole girls state tournaments that concluded on Wednesday:
— 5A at Black Bear Golf Club: A year after finishing sixth in the 5A state tournament as a freshman, Higgins came out on top on Wednesday.
After stellar opening rounds — Higgins had a 66 and Stiwich a 67 on Tuesday — both had a much rougher go of it on day 2. Higgins carded a 77 in which she birdied Nos. 10 and 11, but played her final six holes of regulation in 4 over par. Stiwich carded a 76 that also included a tough finish as she went 5 over for her last eight holes of regulation, then had the two OB shots in the playoff.
For 36 holes, the two tied at 1-under-par 143.
Sophomore Ashleigh Wilson of Rock Canyon, who closed with a 70, finished third at 1-over-par 145.
In the team race, Valor Christian successfully defended its 5A title, posting a 21-stroke victory over Castle View. Rock Canyon placed third.
Both Higgins (individually) and Valor (team) were coming off victories in the 5A Western Regional state qualifying tournament. Valor was hosting the 5A state meet.
— 4A at Thorncreek Golf Course: A year after Ashton claimed the 4A individual title — becoming just the third freshman since 2002 to claim a girls state high school title in Colorado — it was Erie teammate Hale’s turn on Wednesday.
Hale, who placed seventh at state last year, carded her stellar 6-under-par 66 on Wednesday, playing her final 16 holes in 7 under par. That left her at 7-under 137 for two days, good for an eight-stroke victory over Ashton, who had beaten Hale by eight in the 4A Region 3 state qualifier at The Fox Hill Club.
Ashton, part of the AJGA 12-15 national All-Star team last year, closed with a four-birdie 72 on Wednesday to check in at 1 over total. Mullen senior Kaitlin Zingler, who will play her college golf at the University of Denver, tied for third place at 8-over-par 152 with first-round co-leader Ava Schroeder from Cheyenne Mountain.
With three players in the top nine — Logan Hale, Ashton and Taylor Hale (ninth) — it should come as no surprise that Erie ran away with the 4A team title, winning by a whopping 49 strokes. It was the Tigers’ second straight 4A team crown.
Placing second on Wednesday was Durango, followed closely by Discovery Canyon.
— 3A at Aspen Golf Club: With Wednesday’s victory, Bante has now finished second, first and first at state individually.
This time, she went wire-to-wire, with only one competitor closer than 20 strokes to her. The junior went 74-69 to end at 1-over-par 143, playing her last six holes in 3 under par, with four birdies and a bogey. For the two days, Bante chalked up nine birdies.
Bante was named a Colorado Golf Hall of Fame “Future Famer” last year after earning the USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, a national honor. The award goes to “one male and one female junior golfer who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program, a joint initiative founded by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.”
Finishing second in 3A on Wednesday was Noelle Thompson of Peak to Peak (78-76–154), while Kyndra Johnson of Salida was third (80-83–163).
For the third consecutive year, St. Mary’s Academy claimed the 3A team title, this time by 11 strokes over Peak to Peak and host Aspen. St. Mary’s had finished second to Prospect Ridge at the 3A Region 2 state qualifier.
Girls State High School Golf Top Results
5A AT BLACK BEAR GOLF CLUB IN PARKER
Brenna Higgins, Valor Christian 66-77–143
Sophia Stiwich, Smoky Hill 67-76–143
Ashleigh Wilson, Rock Canyon 75-70–145
Caitlyn Chin, Cherry Creek 68-80–148
Elle Higgins, Valor Christian 74-75–149
Sydney McCord, Castle View 75-74–149
Ellie Barry, Fossil Ridge 80-74–154
Kaleigh Babineaux, Cherokee Trail 81-74–155
Addison Hines, Ralston Valley 75-81–156
Ashley Chang, Rock Canyon 72-84–156
Valor Christian 224-237–461
Castle View 242-240—482
Rock Canyon 244-250—494
Cherokee Trail 253-243—496
Cherry Creek 238-260–498
4A AT THORNCREEK GOLF COURSE IN THORNTON
Logan Hale, Erie 71-66–137
Hadley Ashton, Erie 73-72–145
Katilin Ziegler, Mullen 76-76–152
Ava Schroeder, Cheyenne Mountain 71-81–152
Zayda Mestas, Durango 80-76–156
Reece Bandemer, Loveland 81-76–157
Macy Kleve, Windsor 78-79–157
Ellie White, Durango 80-78–158
Emily Cheng, Discovery Canyon 78-81–159
Taylor Hale, Erie 79-80–159
Sophia Capua, Vista Peak 79-80–159
Sofia Contreras, Pueblo Central 78-81–159
Discovery Canyon 244-247–491
Holy Family 251-258–509
Cheyenne Mountain 248-261–509
3A AT ASPEN GOLF CLUB
Maddy Bante, St. Mary’s Academy 74-69–143
Noelle Thompson, Peak to Peak 78-76–154
Kyndra Johnson, Salida 80-83–163
Lenna Persson, Aspen 79-85–164
Hope Torres, Prospect Ridge 85-83–168
Brooke O’Sullivan, Aspen 84-85–169
Anya Knoll, Berthoud 88-87–175
Haley Plumley, Vail Mountain 95-86–181
Kate Dinges, Prospect Ridge 89-94–183
Avery Bakes, Colorado Academy 93-92–185
Ashley Russell, Berthoud 99-86–185
Quinn Wilson, Denver Christian 91-94–185
Logan Nobrega, Vail Mountain 89-96–185
Brooklyn Tychsen, Berthoud 87-98–185
St. Mary’s Academy 263-258—521
Peak to Peak 267-265—532
Prospect Ridge 273-270–543
About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for ColoradoGolf.org since 2009. He was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2022. He owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com