Evergreen and Columbine boys golf teams capture Jeffco League titles

Lange edges Messingham in tight 5A Jeffco medalist crown


ARVADA — The race for Class 5A Jeffco League boys golf individual medalist title was as tight as could be Sept. 14 at West Woods Golf Club.

The previous two individual medalist winners — Lakewood senior Max Lange and Ralston Valley senior Gage Messingham — were dead locked with a 9-hole average of 34.2 strokes over the first five conference tournaments. Lange (medalist as a sophomore in 2019) was paired in the same foursome with Messingham (defending medalist from 2020) in the final league tournament of the season.

“It felt like match-play between me and Gage,” Lange said. “Gage and I are actually really good friends. Talking down the 18th fairway with him was pretty cool. It’s great to compete against him. He is a really great golfer.”

Lange would eventually claim his second individual medalist league title of his career thanks to a strong run on the back-nine. The senior was 4-over-par early on in his final nine holes, but managed a run of four birdies in the final five holes to finish with a 1-over-par 73.

“I felt like I would never give up. I just kept going,” Lange said of his round. “I couldn’t make a putt to save my life, but coming in (back-nine) I knew I had an easy stretch and could bounce back even with starting bad.”

Messingham had a hot start with three birdies on his first five holes. He eventually finished with a 1-under-par 71. Despite Messingham with a 2-stroke better finish on the day, the bylaws to determine the individual medalist title calls for each golfer to drop their two worst 9-hole scores over the six tournaments.

When all the numbers were crunched, Lange finished with a 33.8 9-hole average and Messingham finished with a 34.0 9-hole average. The medalist title was actually decided by two strokes.

“It wasn’t the way I wanted to end (league),” Messingham said. “It is what it is.”

The Ralston Valley senior was quick to move on to the runner-up finish in the extremely competitive 5A Jeffco League.

“Just focusing on regionals now,” said Messingham, who finished tied for 7th at the 5A state tournament last year. “Get in some practice rounds and then move on to state.”

The four 5A regional and state qualifying tournaments will be played Sept. 20-23 next week. The team finish in league determines which regional Jeffco teams will be headed to. The 5A state tournament is scheduled for Colorado Springs Country Club on Oct. 4 and 5.

“I would like to see it comes down to me and Gage at state,” Lange said. “I do have to focus on regionals and put my team in a good place to qualify for state as a team.”

Columbine ended a long drought on the links. The Rebels wrapped up the 5A Jeffco team title for the first time since 1977. Sophomore Matai Naqica shot a 2-under-par 70 to lead the way for Columbine.

“We haven’t won a league championship in 44 years,” Naqica said. “It’s a big one for us.”

Naqica finished the league season strong by winning the tournament at Homestead Golf Course last week and finishing second behind Valor junior Colin Young who shot a 4-under-par 68 at West Woods.

“I’ve just put in more working and focusing more in general to the tournament itself,” Naqica said. “Doing the little things right.”

On the 4A side, Evergreen did a lot right during the regular season. The Cougars cruised to the 4A Jeffco League team title and freshman Tyler Long dominated winning the individual medalist title.

“It was solid,” Long said after his 3-under-par, 69 at West Woods.

There was a little bit of pressure on Long even if he didn’t realize it. The freshman didn’t golf at the Homestead tournament last week, so the two 9-holes he dropped had to be that whole tournament at the short championship course that is a par 65.

“I didn’t even know that existed,” Long said about players dropping your two worst 9-hole scores when determining the individual medalist title. “It feels pretty good. I’ve been playing a lot of competitive tournament golf.”

The Cougars and the rest of the 4A Jeffco teams will head to the 4A Region 2 tournament at Country Club of Colorado on Sept. 20 in Colorado Springs.

“I just want to play good golf,” Long said about heading to regionals and likely state.

Dennis Pleuss is the Sports Information Director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com


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