Boys Golf: Aurora’s state tournament contingent mostly long on experience

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Regis Jesuit senior Andrew McCormick fired a 68 that tied for the best score among any Class 5A golfers in regional play. He and the Raiders expect to be in the mix to win the program's fifth 5A state title in six years at the Oct. 5-6 state tournament at Fort Collins Country Club. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)
Regis Jesuit senior Andrew McCormick fired a 68 that tied for the best score among any Class 5A golfers in regional play. He and the Raiders expect to be in the mix to win the program’s fifth 5A state title in six years at the Oct. 5-6 state tournament at Fort Collins Country Club. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Fall’s fastest-moving sport, boys golf, has already come to the verge of its conclusion.

A total of 12 Aurora boys golfers emerged from Class 5A and 4A regional tournaments having earned the right to extend their season for two rounds, which take place Oct. 5-6.

Most of the city’s state-bound contingent — the 5A group at Fort Collins Country Club and the 4A at Fox Hill Country Club — is experienced, led by three-time qualifiers in Smoky Hill’s Paul Cleveland, Bradley Scalia of Cherokee Trail and Regis Jesit’s Tyler Zhang, plus two-timers in seniors Andrew McCormick and Bennett Rogers of Regis Jesuit, Cherokee Trail’s Ji Woo Jang and Eaglecrest’s Davis Bryant.

Regis Jesuit, which had its streak of fourth straight 5A state championships snapped last season, served notice that it intends to make another run.
Coach Craig Rogers’ team — winner of the Continental League championship — posted a 21-stroke victory in the Central Regional. With a strong performance, the Raiders put themselves in the conversation for another run at a state title or at least adding a seventh straight top-two trophy, but they have plenty of company.

“I think at least six or seven teams have a really good chance,” Craig Rogers said. “I think if we played 10 state championships, we would probably have five or six different winners. It’s whoever is hot those two days and we’ll have to have some good fortune and some good bounces.

“Crazy things can happen and we know it’s going to be a dogfight.”

Regis Jesuit’s regional performance was encouraging, as McCormick fired a 4-under 68 to tie Arapahoe’s David Packer for the best among all players at the four regional tournaments and sends him into state on a high note.

Junior Tyler Zhang, a transfer from Highlands Ranch who had to sit out half the season, wasn’t far behind McCormick with a 70. Before the season, Zhang said he felt better about his chances to win a state title at Regis Jesuit, though his former team also qualified four players for the state tournament.

Bennett Rogers — who has good thoughts about the state course after he won a Junior PGA tournament there over the summer — and first-time qualifier Cal McCoy, who emerged from a deep pool at tryouts to play with Regis Jesuit’s top group the entire season, both carded strong 77s at regionals.

Individually, Bryant has top-10 hopes, especially following an outstanding regular season that saw him accrue more points in Centennial League play than anybody in 13 years on his way to medalist honors. He just returned from a chance to play in the First Tee Open in Pebble Beach, California.

Jang, the 2014 Centennial League champ, has high hopes to far surpass his performance at state a year ago (when he tied for 58th) and is coming off a strong regular season that saw him tie the course record at South Suburban Golf Course with a 64, while Cleveland and Scalia, who have played four state tournament rounds apiece, each are eager for better as well.

Scalia tied for 30th last season, with Cleveland in a deadlock for 48th, after they finished 17th and 68th, respectively, in 2013.

The state newcomers are a pair of Grandview players in senior Mason Jowsey and junior Danny Taggart along with freshman Christopher Kennedy of Smoky Hill — who won a rare Sunday playoff to earn his way in — and freshman Sha Jefferson, who is Vista PEAK’s first-ever qualifier for the 4A state tournament.

Jowsey played as Grandview’s No. 2 for most of the season, but surged past Taggart with strong play at the end. He shot a 75 in the Western Regional, four strokes ahead of Taggart.

Jefferson made a massive improvement from the start of the season and earned his way into state with an 82 at regionals.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

AURORA CLASS 5A/4A FIRST ROUND TEE TIMES, PAIRINGS

CLASS 5A (Oct. 5 at Fort Collins Country Club)

TEE NO. 1

8:48 a.m.: Josh Caridi (Fossil Ridge), BRADLEY SCALIA (CHEROKEE TRAIL), Shane Tilger (Broomfield); 10 a.m.: Tyler Martinez (Arapahoe), BENNETT ROGERS (REGIS JESUIT), Charlie Schneider (Highlands Ranch); 10:09 a.m.: Jackson Crist (Highlands Ranch), CAL MCCOY (REGIS JESUIT), Tom Packer (Arapahoe); 10:18 a.m.: Austin Duffy (Arapahoe), Kyle Pearson (Highlands Ranch), TYLER ZHANG (REGIS JESUIT); 10:27 a.m.: ANDREW MCCORMICK (REGIS JESUIT), David Packer (Arapahoe), Ryan Pearson (Highlands Ranch)

TEE NO. 10

8:30 a.m.: Freddie Gluck (Boulder), JI WOO JANG (CHEROKEE TRAIL), Cam Nagel (Rocky Mountain); 8:39 a.m.: Bryce Hoskins (Greeley West), MASON JOWSEY (GRANDVIEW), Arik Roberts (Palmer); 8:48 a.m.: PAUL CLEVELAND (SMOKY HILL), Alec Poorman (Boulder), David Roney (Douglas County); 8:57 a.m.: Hunter Paugh (Fort Collins), Jared Sitzman (Legend), CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY (SMOKY HILL); 9:42 a.m.: JT Snowden (Rock Canyon), DANNY TAGGART (GRANDVIEW), Hunter Tuite (Cherry Creek); 10:27 a.m.: DAVIS BRYANT (EAGLECREST), Trevor Olkowski (Grand Junction), Daniel Pearson (Fairview)