Regional golf action heats up |

Regional golf action heats up

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN, Colorado ” Roaring Fork’s Arick Zeigel had mentally ” and physically ” moved on from Tuesday’s 3A Western Conference golf regional.

The two-fall-sport athlete carded a 95 at Aspen Golf Club and promptly rushed off to make what he thought was a 4 p.m. soccer game across town in Aspen.

Not so fast.

Instead, the Rams’ junior found himself rushing back to the links to play off for what he thought was an alternate state-tournament spot. That worked out well, since a transportation issue postponed the start time for that soccer game, leaving Zeigel wiggle room to polish off a regional playoff.

But a scoring error by tournament officials rendered that playoff a false alarm.

A good false alarm, though, as Zeigel’s 95 fell just within the state-qualifying parameters, sending the Ram to the Oct. 6-7 state tournament at Spring Valley Golf Course in Elizabeth.

“I was getting ready for soccer,” said Zeigel, feeling somewhat like a human yo-yo. “That’s what was in my head. I came back thinking, ‘OK.’ I’m glad it worked out. It would have been tough to have the playoff and then go off to soccer. I’m just lucky I made it with a 95.”

Zeigel’s teammate, Micah Evonitz, didn’t have to sweat out his bid for state. The sophomore knew relatively early on his 85 was good enough to punch his ticket, despite playing a round he wasn’t all that thrilled with.

“I wasn’t hitting the greens in regulation, but I was making my putts and hitting well off the tee,” he said.

Evonitz, like Zeigel, has two weeks to work out the kinks in his game.

“I’m definitely going to work on my accuracy,” Evonitz said. “I’m striking the ball OK. It’s just 10 yards right or 10 yards left. And I just have to work on my focus. That’s about it.”

Evonitz and Zeigel are the first golfers from the school to qualify for state since A.J. Joiner did it four years ago.

This year is the first that Colorado High School Activities Association is hosting a 3A state tourney. Last year, schools sized 3A and below competed at the 4A level.

Coal Ridge junior Craig Spaulding became the first Titan in school history to qualify for a state tournament, swinging to an 85 on the par-72 Aspen Golf Club course. It’s a mark that earned him a share of third place with Evonitz and three others in the 3A field.

Spaulding conceded that advice from his coach, Joe Elliot, helped him along the path to state.

“He just said to play humble, that you can’t try to go too big,” Spaulding said.

It’s advice that Elliot frequently gives and that Spaulding admitted often goes unheeded.

“I’m more of a go-big guy,” Spaulding said. “He’s tried to get me to do it for so long. It worked out today.”

Grand Valley senior Kaleb Bell overcame the pain to make his way to the 3A state tournament.

Just before the season, the Cardinal broke his foot, leg and ankle in several places after rolling a four-wheeler. The injury kept him off the course until only recently.

Playing in just his fifth tournament of the season, a less-than-100 percent Bell, who limped about the course, delivered an 89 that was good enough for a share of eighth place and a trip to the Oct. 6-7 state tournament.

As for his foot: “It’s getting there,” Bell said. “There’s still some pain every now and then, but I’ll live.”

He has two more weeks to heal, and work on his game.

Rifle’s Klayton Costanzo and Glenwood Springs’ Michael Braklow no doubt left Aspen Golf Club, also the site of Tuesday’s 4A Western Regional, wondering where they could have shaved a stroke or two off their round.

Costanzo, a junior, narrowly missed a trip to the Oct. 6-7 4A state tournament at Craig’s Yampa Valley Golf Course, shooting an 83.

Glenwood’s Michael Braklow, also a junior, carded an 84. The Demon hopes to better his consistency by the time the 2009 season rolls around.

“I’ll go on a par streak, and then I’ll get an eight,” he said. “There were good holes and then there were bad holes. I know I could have shot better.”

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