Rifle High School’s exchange student enjoys her state golf experience
GOLDEN, Colorado – Though her native Argentina isn’t the biggest of golf hotbeds, that hasn’t stopped Rifle High School exchange student Mercedes Bolado from taking to the links.And her steady improvement during the course of the spring season has her teeing off at Colorado’s Class 4A state girls golf tournament at Rolling Hills Country Club in Golden.The junior shot a 98 at the Western Regional in Delta two weeks ago, earning the chance to play with the state’s top swingers.To think, she only chose golf as her spring sport because she preferred not to deal with a particular form of training that accompanies the other sports offered at the same time.”I don’t like running,” she joked in her perfect English, “so golf is perfect.”Bolado took up golf back in Argentina, despite it being a relatively unpopular sporting option in a country where soccer reigns.”Golf’s not that big,” she explained. “It’s more for high-class people. There aren’t many girls. I went to a club and played on my own, pretty much just taking lessons.”Those lessons paid off, and despite a rocky first round at state on Monday, she’s just happy to be there.”I almost didn’t make it,” she said. “I’m just excited to be here. I made it by one stroke.”Bolado’s not only happy to be at state, but happy to be in Colorado, a place she knew nothing about before her exchange-program placement in Rifle.”I only knew of Aspen,” she said.And Colorado has treated Bolado very well, in both the halls at Rifle High and beyond. The Argentine also played junior varsity softball in the fall and got in plenty of time snowboarding on local slopes in the winter, something that back in Argentina requires at least a day-and-a-half trek from her hometown of Olavarria.”I really like snowboarding,” Bolado said. “I’d only been skiing before.”It’s safe to say the temporary Rifle Bear will leave the United States in July with a heavy heart. She’ll return home only after a summer travel spree that will take her and several other exchange students to 23 states in 28 days.”I really want to go to New York, L.A., Washington,” said Bolado, who will graduate from school back in Argentina in December and then go to college there. “We’ll be (in Washington) on the Fourth of July.”Though she’ll be happy to return to her family, leaving legions of new friends in Rifle will not be easy.Said Bolado: “I’m not ready to go back yet.”
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