Rifle golfers at home at Titan Invitational | PostIndependent.com

Rifle golfers at home at Titan Invitational

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Jeff Caspersen Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado ” Though she endures occasional ribbing from other kids at school, Rifle High School sophomore Kieryn Hammond doesn’t mind suiting up for Coal Ridge’s girls golf team.

She knows she wouldn’t have a place to play otherwise.

With a low turnout and no coach lined up, Rifle decided to merge its team with Garfield School District Re-2 mate Coal Ridge just before the season. The combo squad plays under Coal Ridge’s name and is coached by Titans’ coach Jemiah Fowler.

With no place else to play, Hammond and three fellow Rifle Bears have swung their clubs as Titans in 2009.

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“It’s a little different,” Hammond said, “but I’m just happy we get to play. … I get teased a lot. People say, ‘You’re playing for Coal Ridge?’ Not anybody angry or anything.”

On Monday, the Titans ” the temporary and permanent ones alike ” and six other teams swarmed Rifle Creek Golf Course for the Titan Invitational. Organizers tabbed Rifle Creek the tourney site as a compromise, Fowler said.

“We decided since it’s Coal Ridge’s name, we’d make Rifle Creek the home course,” he explained. “That way both schools are honored with it.”

Freshman Allison Powell, one of the team’s three Rifle students, paced the Titans with a 113. She birdied the 10th hole. Hammond carded a 117 on the challenging 18-hole course.

Both will work to bring those scores down in the coming weeks. The May 5 Western Regional in Montrose, where Slope golfers will vie for state tournament berths, is rapidly approaching.

Fowler’s team is definitely putting in the course time.

“They’re out here a lot, six days a week,” the second-year coach said. “They’re getting a lot better. They’re all really coachable and really good kids. Their scores have gotten a lot better. Hopefully, I’d like to see one or two qualify for state.”

Tasha Derby isn’t all that fond of Rifle Creek Golf Course, but that didn’t stop her from shooting the best tournament score of her life on Monday.

The Glenwood Springs senior posted matching 41s on the front and back nine to take Titan Invite gold with an 82. She beat out teammate Michelle Stripp by two strokes and helped Glenwood win the team title.

“I don’t even like this course,” Derby said, laughing. “I love the front nine, but I hate the back nine.”

She started Monday on the hilly back nine, which worked to her advantage.

“It was better starting on the back nine,” Derby said. “Then I could get it out of the way.”

If not for a pair of 8s, Stripp’s score might have shrunk.

“I had a quad and a triple (bogey),” she relayed. “Other than that, it was really, really good. I should have been in the 70s.”

Though frustrating, Stripp simply shrugged off those adventurous holes.

“I’m saving it for regionals,” she joked.

Next up for both the Demons and Titans is today’s Aspen Invite at Aspen Golf Course, where golfers are scheduled to tee off at 11 a.m.

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