Area prep golfers ready for 4A state tourney |

Area prep golfers ready for 4A state tourney

The Rifle Bears golf team wasn’t able to retain its regional crown this year, but the ultimate goal was accomplished.

Rifle finished second behind Steamboat Springs at the Regional tournament held at Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat. The finish, while not good enough for the regional title, did qualify the Bears for the State Tournament.

“That was the object, to qualify,” Rifle coach Steve LeDonne said. “The boys really wanted to repeat as regional champs, but we were district champions and two boys were all conference, which was great.”

The two-day Class 4A State Tournament begins today at the par-72, 6,859-yard Boomerang Links Golf Course in Greeley.

Jerrad Brown and Cole Manuppella were the all-conference players for Rifle, finishing tied for fourth at regionals. With the team qualification, Jeb Savage and Jim Owens will also be making the trip for the Bears squad.

Also earning all-conference accolades and qualifying for the state tournament individually is Roaring Fork is Sean McMechen. McMechen, who entered the regional tourney ranked 20th, posted a 77 to tie for seventh place and qualify for a spot in the state tournament.

With Roaring Fork fielding its own team for the first time this year, McMechen will be the first player ever to represent the Rams at the State Tournament. Prior to this season Roaring Fork players played for the Basalt team.

McMechen and the Rifle players obviously will be playing an unfamiliar course in Greeley. The practice round Sunday was the first time many of the players even saw Boomerang.

LeDonne, however, is hopeful the course layout benefits his players.

The shortest par-5 hole at Boomerang is 555 yards and four of the par-4 holes are 400 yards or longer.

“(The course) is of considerable length and, from what I’ve heard, water comes into play in the first seven holes,” LeDonne said.

“I think under those conditions our guys do have a little advantage in that they are long off the tee and used to playing a tight golf course.”

As a team, Rifle posted scores ranging from 220 to 243 this season, and they will likely need to be down toward the low end of that range both days to be in contention for medalist honors.

All four players have shown the ability to shoot low rounds, and, perhaps more important, the group seems to pick up the slack if one player is having an off day. The three low scores each day count toward the team total.

“You couldn’t ask to put together a much better team,” LeDonne said.

“Most teams have one guy that really stands out all the time. These guys all have the ability to shot some real low numbers and it’s a real golfable course for them to play.”

And LeDonne, who is in his first year coaching the Bears, has a good feeling about his team.

“It’s one of those things you get a gut feeling about what is going to happen, and I’ve really been feeling good about this,” he said.

“If my gut feeling is right, we should come back with some amazing stuff.”

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