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Rifle’s Manupella pops at Soda Pop Open

Phil Sandoval

Unlike most of the golfers who played in the afternoon session of the Soda Pop Open, Cole Manupella doesn’t have the burden of making his high school golf team.

The Rifle High senior-to-be had his spot on the Bear varsity secured months before Monday’s annual event, which serves as a test for younger, inexperienced golfers under the unforgiving stare of a coach’s judgmental eyes.

Relieved of that pressure, Manupella, instead focused his attention on fine-tuning his game and the Glenwood Springs Golf Course.

He handled both just fine.

The RHS golfer carded a three-over par 75, besting Roaring Fork High School senior Bryant Maggert for the 16-18 year-old boys title.

“I played pretty good today, I made some key putts,” Manupella said.

While earning the Glenwood championship was nice, Manupella is anxiously awaiting next week’s start of the 2002 prep season.

Manupella and his Bear teammates open the season (along with Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork) next Monday with the Tiger Invitational at Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction.

“I’m pretty confident. I’m hitting the ball solid, now we’ll see what happens,” said Manupella of the upcoming season. “Our team should be good this year, we’re confident that if someone has a bad game, one of us will pick it up.”

Two Glenwood Springs residents, Connor Frey and Jesse Hansen, ended the 18-hole tournament in third and fourth place with rounds of 80 and 81, respectively.

Rifle High sophomore Matt Dunham won the 13-15 boys championship in an unusual matter.

The early results on the leaderboard showed Carbondale’s Chris Webster leading at 72 to Dunham’s 74. Webster’s round was disqualified by tournament officials when he failed to finish a hole and picked up his ball and played the next hole.

Sean McMechan, a sophomore at Roaring Fork High School, finished at 75 for second place. Grand Junction’s Chase Nathe, an eighth grader at Redlands Middle School, placed third.

Mandy Preston of Eagle won the abbreviated four-person 16-18-year-old girls tournament over Glenwood’s Jaci Reynolds by one shot.

Preston, who plays for Eagle Valley High, carded a 97 compared to Reynold’s 98.

Age division champions from the morning session included Brittani White, 13-15 girls, Julia Flores, 10-12 girls, and Bobby Moyer a winner over Jacob Lincoln and Willy Pelland in a one-hole playoff for the 9-and-under boys title.


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