Glenwood, Rifle boys hit links
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. After a summer of swinging, local prep golfers are set to start taking cuts that count. Colorado High School Activities Association-sanctioned practices began Monday and the tournaments start Thursday, beginning a six-week rollercoaster ride of a boys’ season.
Fresh off a season in which Glenwood Springs had its first state qualifier since 1996 in Jason Whiting, expectations are high in the Demon golf camp.Sophomore Michael Braklow and senior D.J. Pelland join Whiting to form a forceful scoring trio.”Jason and Michael, especially, played a lot of golf this summer,” noted Glenwood coach Bryan Whiting, who’s also Jason’s father. “You can’t compete and not play in the summertime. It’s the whole ball of wax.”The elder Whiting also anticipates contributions from Clay Hawkins, Kelby Artez, Garrett Brown and Taylor Mays.New to the coaching fray this season is Glenwood Springs Golf Club pro Greg Gortsema. He already works plenty with young Glenwood golfers, so adding him to the high school coaching mix is a big bonus, Whiting explained. “He helps out not only with his expertise, but we’ve got a bunch of kids and the ones who don’t go to tournaments he can work with. They can be out at the net working on something. Greg on board is a good thing.”How Glenwood fares remains to be seen. Whiting isn’t making any bold predictions.”Last year we had one of the best teams I’ve had,” he said. “We had four kids who could break 70 on any given day and didn’t have a tournament where we were worse than fourth. “I just don’t know who’s worked extra hard in the summer. You don’t know if a kid shooting in the 90s went and got help. We won’t be at the bottom of the pack.”The Demons take to the links at Battlement Mesa Golf Club for Grand Valley’s home tournament on Thursday before hosting their own annual tourney at Glenwood Springs Golf Club on Friday.
Buoyed by first-team, all-conference pick Shawn Cruse, Rifle aims to be competitive this fall. Cruse is the last remaining of a solid foursome that also included now-graduated Mike Sours, Matt Hubbell and Brandon Forney.Looking to step in and fill the departed seniors’ shoes is sophomore Klayton Costanzo, who had a strong summer that included a landslide victory in the three-round Western Colorado Junior Golf Tournament in Grand Junction.Rifle head coach Duke Earl also expects junior Alex Haynes and seniors Tommy Peters and Eric Copen to be big contributors.”I think they’re definitely going to be in my top five or six,” said Earl, who may also see some underclassmen enter the fray in terms of tournament qualifying.
“We have some good, young players coming in,” he added.The Bears didn’t advance as far as they hoped last postseason, with a good chunk of the team sitting out regionals due to disciplinary action. Assuming they can keep everyone on the course this season, they should be right in the thick of the Western Slope pack.”For our division, Basalt is still going to be the team to beat. I think Steamboat lost most of their good players. Eagle Valley and Montrose should be pretty solid, too. All after us, of course,” Earl said with a chuckle.Earl, who coaches both the boys and girls teams at Rifle, is back to head coaching after dropping to an assistant role under Penny Sykes in the girls spring season because of illness. He’s ready to get back at it.”It’s nice to be back,” he said. “It was a long winter and spring.”Fall should prove much brighter.Said Earl: “We’re looking forward to it and just hope we have a good year.”
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.