Bell tops at Rifle Invite |

Bell tops at Rifle Invite

Joelle MilholmGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

RIFLE – Playing in the last tournament before Class 4A Western Regionals, teams were hoping to see good things when they gazed up at the scoreboard on Wednesday at the Rifle Invitational Golf Tournament.Most players, however, weren’t happy after 18 holes at the challenging course that is Rifle Creek. But, hey, that’s golf. Kaleb Bell did have reason to celebrate though, as the Grand Valley golfer shot a 78 to win the individual title. Rifle’s Shawn Cruse finished in a four-way tie for third with an 80. Normally, the canyon-like back nine of Rifle Creek stymies golfers, but Cruse’s hardships were opposite.

“The front nine killed me. I had three birdie putts all within three feet, but I missed two of three. Putting killed me on the front nine. I struggled,” said Cruse, who hit a 40 on the front and 40 on the back. “I was coming back on the back nine, but then I tripled 14 and bogeyed my last hole.”Thirteen varsity teams and eight JV teams played in the tournament, which was won by Montrose. The Indians tied with Steamboat with team scores of 244, but Montrose took the title in a tiebreaker. Rifle took fifth overall.Roaring Fork came in sixth after shooting a 270. Max Frank shot the lowest round for the Rams, carding a 90. Coal Ridge placed eighth overall with a 274 as Kyle Simonson and Craig Spaudling hit 89s.

The tournament was the final regular season tournament for the boys golf teams this fall. Now everyone will be preparing for regionals, which will be held Sept. 20 at Conquistador Golf Club in Cortez.It’s hard work for the golfers to cram so many tournaments into such a short season.”It’s always too soon,” Cruse said of regionals. “I don’t want this to be over. I am having so much fun this season.”

Cruse will be one of the four golfers representing Rifle at regionals, as will Alex Haynes, who shot an 89 on Wednesday. Rifle head coach Duke Earl is hoping that Eric Copen will also be on that list. Copen was in a car accident last week and didn’t play on Wednesday because he was still recovering.”He still might be good to go for regionals. Hopefully,” Earl said.Earl also said the fourth Bear spot has yet to be decided.At regionals, the top two teams will qualify for the state tournament Oct. 1-2 at Broadland Golf Course in Broomfield. Outside of the top two teams, the top five individuals will also merit an invitation to state.

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