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Below-par play would suit Joiner fine

G. Sean KellyPost Independent Sports Editor

A.J. Joiner just wants to go lower.The Roaring Fork High School senior was the only golfer out of Garfield County to qualify for the Class 4A state tournament last year and plans to make a repeat trip this season, which starts for area teams today at the Grand Valley Invitational at the Battlement Mesa Golf Club.”I’d like to prequalify (for state), and I’d really like to do well at state,” Joiner said. “It’s at Wellshire in Denver. I think I can play pretty well there, and I know I can make it (to state) – it would be disappointing if I didn’t.”I would just like to shoot a lot lower numbers this year than I did last golf season.”His scoring average last season was 74.3 and he would “like to get to at least even, if not under, par.”He’s been putting in the work this summer at tournaments around the state and beyond. “He’s played in so many (tournaments) I can’t keep track of them all,” Roaring Fork coach Larry Williams said. “He definitely has more tournament experience. He’s a senior and he’s shown great leadership so far, and his scores have been consistently lower this summer than they had been last year.”Three of the four players are back from the Rams team that finished third at last year’s Western Regional: Joiner, junior Hayden Winkler and senior Derek Parker. Colorado Rocky Mountain School senior Ethan McVoy fills the No. 4 spot for the Rams and five other golfers are battling for the fifth spot on varsity and will “hopefully just rotate throughout the year,” Williams said.Along with Roaring Fork, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Roaring Fork, Coal Ridge and host Grand Valley are all slated to tee off at 8 a.m. today at Battlement Mesa Golf Club. Glenwood Springs DemonsGlenwood Springs boys golf coach Bryan Whiting knows only so much progress can be made during the short boys golf season. Still, he’s got a good base to work with and, if players drop a few strokes here and there, Glenwood could be in the mix in the Western Region.”Team-wise, we are as good as we’ve been in a while, as far as four deep,” Whiting said. “I’d be awfully surprised if Cody (Nelson) is not shooting in the 70s shortly, and I think Tory (Garling) could be shooting in the low 80s quickly.”And, keep in mind, Nelson and Garling aren’t the team’s top players.Senior Matt McAdow starts the season as the team’s No. 1, and classmate Michael Flohr should be right there with him by the end of the season. McAdow, like Joiner, has spent plenty of time playing tournaments and taking lessons over the summer and is consistently in the low 70s. Flohr spends a bit more time on the basketball hardwood than the golf courses during the summer, but has shown a propensity to drop strokes as the season progresses.”Matt’s got the potential to do very well and the capability to shoot par on any of the courses we play,” Whiting said. “Last year (Flohr) started off shooting in the low 80s and, by the end of the year was our No. 1 golfer,” Whiting added. “He’s shooting 78 now and could be down at 72 at the end of the year.”Other players expected to contribute this season are sophomore Jason Whiting, Bryan’s son, who will do double-duty as a member of the soccer team this season, and junior Kevin Warkinton.Rifle BearsThe Rifle Bears enter the season with a young squad and a new coach in Duke Earl.Junior Matt Hubbell opens the season in the No. 1 slot, followed by sophomore Shawn Cruse and junior Brandon Forney. Steven Anderson, the only senior on the team, is slotted in at No. 4 and junior Jonny Owens rounds out the top five for the first tournament at Battlement.Mike Sours also will likely get plenty of varsity action, but isn’t in the top five for today’s tournament.Grand Valley CardinalsGrand Valley has the benefit of hosting the first tournament of the season, and for at least one member – the team’s current No. 1 – it will be the first tournament of his high school career. Freshman Colton Cowan claimed the top spot on the team Wednesday.”It’s nice, him being so young. He’s just going to get stronger,” said coach Jeff Bradley. “He’s a very knowledgeable golfer for being so young.”Grand Valley does have a pair of seasoned golfers in senior Trevor Bell and junior Sam McKinley. Sophomore Tyler Jensen rounds out the top four for the Cardinals.Coal Ridge TitansWith only freshmen and sophomores attending Coal Ridge this year, it will be a young team. Of course the players of all the sports are also members of the very first team of their respective sports.”We’re just really excited,” said coach Scott Zevin. “Everybody is on the inaugural and first team to represent Coal Ridge High School.”Zevin said the team will play either a varsity or JV schedule this year, depending on the skill level of the players. He had a solid turnout for the squad with 11 players.


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