Local golf teams vie for a trip to state tournament
Alex Haynes remembers the day a doctor told him he couldn’t play football anymore. He suffered a serious knee injury during his freshman year at Coal Ridge High School.The injury was so severe, the doctor told Haynes if he played football again and re-injured his knee, he might not be able to walk.It was not a hard choice.But Haynes still wanted to stay active in athletics. He also plays baseball.After transferring to Rifle High School, Haynes tried golf, even though he had never played the sport before.One year later, Haynes, a junior, will be battling for a spot to play in the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A state golfing championships with his teammates at a state-qualifying tournament.The Bears, along with Glenwood, Grand Valley, Coal Ridge and Roaring Fork, will tee off today at Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez in the Western Regional Tournament.”Golf is a lot different than football,” said Haynes. “But I’m starting to get it, now.”Last year he played a few varsity tournaments but lost out in an intrasquad challenge for a spot in the regional tournament. Though he was disappointed, he was excited to play this new sport.He quickly picked up the technical aspect of the game. But it has taken a little longer to pick up the mental aspect of golf. The more he played under control, the more his scores dropped.”Emotion is a key component in football. That’s what motivates you,” he said. “In golf, the focus is keeping your mentality at a level where emotion doesn’t become involved.”It seems to be working for Haynes. He’s third on the team with an average score of 90. But he has the second-lowest score (85) of the four golfers competing at the regional tournament.”I’m getting accustomed to tournaments, now,” Haynes said.Rifle head coach Duke Earl hopes so. The Bears are going to need all four to play at their best to qualify for state.There will be 20 teams at the regional tournament, and 80 individuals. The top two teams will qualify for state. The top eight players who are not on the top two teams also qualify for state.The Bears are led by senior Shawn Cruse, who is coming off a third-place finish at the Rifle Invitational and a victory at the Aspen tournament. Cruse is averaging a score of 78 but has shot as low as 73.In addition, the Bears will have Eric Copen and Tommy Peters. Copen’s average score is 89 and his low is 86 while Peters is averaging a score of 97. His low score, however, is 87.Kaleb Bell and Colton Cowan will be aiming to lead Grand Valley, while Jason Whiting and Michael Braklow enter as the top players for Glenwood Springs. Roaring Fork’s top players going into regionals are Max Frank and Micah Evanitz, while Coal Ridge is led by Kyle Simonson and Craig Spaulding.Post Independent reporter Joelle Milholm contributed to this article.
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