After l-o-n-g wait, girls finally will get to tee it up at state high school golf tournaments
By Gary Baines – 6/18/2021
It’s been 25 months since the last Colorado girls state high school golf tournament was held. In fact, just one day of girls state golf has been conducted since May of 2018.
But after last year’s girls golf state meets were canceled (due to Covid-19 safety concerns) for the first time since first being sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association in 1990, the drought is scheduled to end next week.
The state meets are set for Monday and Tuesday at the newly redesigned City Park Golf Course in Denver (5A), CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora (4A) and Elmwood Golf Course in Pueblo (3A). It will be the first girls state high school golf contested in Colorado since the second round of the 2019 tournaments were canceled by snow on May 21 of that year.
All that has resulted in there being no individual defending state champions in this year’s fields, though one past winner — Emma Bryant of Eaglecrest, who won as a freshman in 2018 — will tee it up.
With the state tournaments being held a month later than usual due to CHSAA going to four athletic seasons in the 2020-21 school year instead of the usual three, quite a few players in the fields have graduated from high school several weeks ago. Bryant, for instance, will be playing college golf at the University of Denver in less than three months.
With the 25 months since the last girls state tournaments, fewer top-10 state finishers from then are still around to give it another go. Specifically, there are just four in 5A, four in 4A and two in 3A.
Here’s that rundown:
Returnees from 5A Top-10 in 2019
Olivia Steen, Fossil Ridge (fourth in 2019)
Katelyn Lehigh, Loveland (eighth in 2019)
Marielle Gojo, Cherry Creek (eighth in 2019)
Grace Dunkleberger, Rock Canyon (eighth in 2019)
Bryant will be seeking her second state high school individual title in three tries. Steen recently won the Denver Women’s City Amateur. And Lehigh had the lowest score for any classification in the regional state qualifying tournaments, with a 5-under-par 66 in the 5A Northern Regional at Coyote Creek. Lehigh is the younger sister of two-time individual state champ Lauren Lehigh.
Fossil Ridge will defend its team title in 5A. Loveland posted a 1-under-par total as a team in its regional tournament.
Returnees from 4A Top-10 in 2019
Sofia Choi, Mullen (second in 2019)
Jessica Mason, Holy Family (fifth in 2019)
Emily Cheng, Discovery Canyon (seventh in 2019)
Timbre Shehee, Mead (ninth in 2019)
Mason tied for third in the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior on Thursday at Walnut Creek Golf Preserve, while Choi was seventh.
Windsor will attempt to win a third consecutive 4A team title.
Returnees from 3A Top-10 in 2019
Aubri Braecklein, Jefferson Academy (second in 2019)
Natalie Tatar, St. Mary’s Academy (eighth in 2019)
Braecklein won the 2020 CGA Women’s Stroke Play and was the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado Girls Player of the Year. She’ll play her college golf at Georgia State.
Colorado Academy is the defending champion in 3A.
Here are the team and individual champions from the recent regional state-qualifying tournaments:
5A Western at Indian Tree GC: Valor Christian (team) 234; Grace Young, Valor Christian (individual) 70
5A Southern at Broken Tee GC: Cherry Creek (team) 236; Rachel Penzenstadler, Cherry Creek, (individual) 73
5A Northern at Coyote Creek GC: Loveland (team) 212; Katelyn Lehigh, Loveland (individual) 66
5A Central at City Park GC: Rock Canyon (team) 231; Sloane Post, Arapahoe (individual) 72
4A Region 4 at Indian Tree GC: Holy Family (team) 258; Jessica Mason, Holy Family (individual) 71
4A Region 3 at Highland Hills GC: Windsor (team) 261; Timbre Shehee, Mead (individual) 79
4A Region 2 at Overland Park GC: Mullen (team) 259; Sofia Choi, Mullen (individual) 74
4A Region 1 at CC of Colorado: Discovery Canyon (team) 230; Emily Cheng, Discovery Canyon (individual) 73.
3A Region 4 at Cattails GC: Vail Mountain (team) 252; Ava Cavataio, Vail Mountain (individual) 75
3A Region 3 at Estes Park GC: Kent Denver (team) 303; Noelle Thompson, Peak to Peak (individual), 90
3A Region 2 at South Suburban GC: St. Mary’s Academy (team) 241; Maddy Bante, St. Mary’s Academy (individual), 77
3A Region 1 at Hollydot GC: Jefferson Academy (team) 261; Aubri Braecklein, Jefferson Academy (individual) 69