Valor wins 4A golf crown

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The Heritage boys golf team accomplished its mission, as did the golfers from Valor Christian, in the Colorado State High School golf championship tournaments.

Heritage turned in the third best score during the second and final day of the Class 5A tournament Oct. 1 at Murphy Creek Golf Course and tied for fifth place in the final standings.

Valor Christian, a runner-up in 2012 after losing in a two-hole playoff to Pueblo South, rallied from five shots off the pace after the first round to claim the Class 4A state championship at Hiwan Country Club.

“We were tied for sixth (after the first round) and we said if we could get into the top five we'd be happy,” said Heritage coach Nicki Polous.

Heritage, led by senior Hunter Lee, carded a 226 during play on the second day that had golfers dealing with 20 mph winds in addition to the course.

The Eagles had the third best final-round score behind state champion Regis Jesuit (213) and Arapahoe (223).

Lee finished tied for 10th in the final individual standings with a 4-over-par 148 total after rounds of 75 and 73. Other members of the Heritage team were Riggs Winz (78-74—172), Reese Leiker (78-79—157) and Nick Leibold (77-83—160).

Regis finished 23 strokes ahead of second-place Ralston Valley. Cherry Creek wound up third, Arapahoe ninth and Douglas County 12th.

Jake Staino shot a 1-over-par 71 in the second round to spark Valor's comeback. The Eagles fashioned a final-round 225 on the difficult Hiwan course to catch and pass Silver Creek to capture the state title by three shots.

Valor had four golfers finish in the top 13 on the individual leaderboard.

Staino (77-71) was fourth at 148, Ross Macdonald (75-77) seventh at 152, Josh Seiple (76-78) tied for ninth place at 154 and Coby Welch (79-77) tied for 13th with a 156 total.

Lee appeared ready to climb up the leader board during the last day of the 5A tournament after he eagled the 311-yard, par 4 ninth hole.

“I was one under going into nine and hit a good chip and it went in,” recalled Lee. “That put me 3-under after nine, but I bogeyed the first three holes on the back nine and birdied one hole. I bogeyed 17, which was the toughest hole because of the wind.

“I kind of had a tough time scoring. I missed a lot of easy short putts that I hadn't missed in previous rounds where I scored lower, so that kind of hindered my chances of going low for the day. Overall I was striking the ball consistently and I just didn't score the way I should have or know I can. Our team played pretty consistent. It was a good showing at state.”

Lee tied for 10th with Arapahoe's Sam Marley (74, 74) and Kobe Padilla (73, 75) of Cherry Creek.

Defending state champion Kyler Dunkle of Douglas County finished the tournament strong by driving the 440-yard, par 4 18th hole and collecting a birdie.

However, that was the highlight for Dunkle, who had rounds of 73 and 76 to wind up tied for 14th with a 149 two-day total.

“The first day I played mediocre and the final day I didn't play very good,” admitted Dunkle. “I was talking to my dad (Rock Canyon coach Jason Dunkle) and he said, it's your senior year and last year of high school golf, go out and have fun. So I had a lot of fun. I drove 18, which was awesome. I was hitting my driver really well in the final round, I just wasn't making any putts.”

Finishes by other 5A golfers in the top 50 included Cherry Creek's Cole Edwards (76, 75) and Will Matthews (73, 78) at 151, Austin Hardman of Mountain Vista (79,73 — 152), Russell Otten of Arapahoe (79, 73 — 152), Jackson Burke of Cherry Creek (76, 78 — 154), Ryan Pearson of Highlands Ranch (80, 75 — 155), Mountain Vista's Chris Raap (77, 80 — 157), Tyler Zhang of Highlands Ranch (77, 80 — 157) and Douglas County's Nick Smith 76, 84 — 160)

In the Class 3A tournament held at the Pueblo County Club, Lutheran's Hayden Nicholaides was fifth in the individual chase after rounds of 78, 70 for a 6-over-par 148 total. Teammate Peyton DeVencenty was sixth at 151 (76, 75).

The Lions were third in the team standings.

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