Regis Jesuit’s chances of winning a fourth straight Class 5A boys state golf championship looked pretty good Sept. 16.
On the same day it was announced that the 5A state tournament would move to Murphy Creek G.C. Sept. 30-Oct. 1, the Raiders rolled to a 13-stroke victory on the same course during the 5A Central Regional tournament.
Senior Spencer Painton won medalist honors with a blistering 4-under-par 68, leading a slew of three Raiders in the top four — which also included runner-up senior Jake Kelley with a 1-under 71 and senior Chris Korte, who tied for fourth with a 1-over 73 — as coach Craig Rogers’ team earned one of the two automatic team bids to the 5A state tournament.
Watching his team at regionals, Rogers was heartened that the Raiders could extend its championship run to four seasons, the longest streak since fellow Continental League power ThunderRidge won six straight 5A crowns in the early 2000s.
“It’s game time, we’re ready to roll,” said Rogers, whose state team also includes junior Jack Lazzeri.
The Raiders head Aurora’s contingent of 10 state qualifiers, a group that also includes Grandview seniors Devyn Solano and Kyle Carr, Smoky Hill sophomore Paul Cleveland and Kyle Colen, Overland senior Joe Slocum and Cherokee Trail freshman Bradley Scalia.
Of the non-Regis Jesuit players, only Solano has qualified for the state tournament before.
Much as Gus Lundquist did in 2011, Painton could give the Raiders an individual state champion as a bonus if his regional round is any indication.
Painton opened his round with a birdie on Hole No. 1 and absolutely cruised from there, getting to 6-under by the end of the front nine. He got as low as 8-under after making birdie on the 600-yard, par 5 Hole No. 15. Two bogeys and a double in his last three holes brought him in with a 68.
Rogers sees Painton — who has committed to the University of Kansas — make things look easy on the course all the time.
“If you talk to the players, they have begun to look at Spencer a little bit differently; he’s an impressive guy out there,” Rogers said of Painton, who was the top junior in last week’s Mark Simpson Invitational hosted by the University of Colorado at Colorado National Golf Club in Erie.
“Physically, he looks the part, he hits a big ball and frankly I haven’t seen him swing hard in quite awhile because he doesn’t have to,” Rogers added.
Kelley also birdied No. 15, his opening hole, but gave two strokes back with a double bogey on No. 16. Two birdies in his next four holes put him back under par and he remained there or even until a birdie on No. 13 helped him finish with his 71. Korte had three birdies in his round and sat even until a bogey on No. 17 resulted in his 1-over.
Rogers wouldn’t count any of his top three out of the individual championship chase.
“Golf is a funny game and weird things happy; certainly any of those guys are capable of winning it,” he said.
Grandview hoped to get a team out of the Western Regional at Raccoon Creek G.C., but came up a player short, though Solano and Carr managed to get through.
Solano is looking to improve on his 40th place finish from a season ago, while Carr — who was denied a state spot in a regional playoff last season — gets to make his one and only state appearance on his home course of Murphy Creek.
Cleveland’s strong season — which included a historic hole-in-one in Centennial League play — resulted in his first state berth, while Colen had to hold on at the end of his round to earn his way in.
Overland hasn’t had a player make the state tournament since Jonathan Park in 2009, but Slocum — one of just three Trailblazers entered in regionals — made his way through.
Cherokee Trail had two state qualifiers back from last season, but neither could make a return this season. Scalia, however, made sure the Cougars — the third place team in the Centennial League regular season — wasn’t shut out of the state tournament.
2013 CLASS 5A BOYS STATE GOLF TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS (SEPT. 30)
Aurora players bold and uppercased
8:30 a.m.: JOE SLOCUM (OVERLAND), Sam Boscoe (George Washington), Josh Hill (Monarch); 8:39 a.m.: Ben Tarasiewicz (Rampart), Erik Young (George Washington), Alex Mautz (Monarch); 8:48 a.m.: Taylor Cooper (Monarch), Ben Volkmann (Grand Junction), Riggs Winz (Heritage); 8:57 a.m.: Greg Gibson (Grand Junction), David Packer (Arapahoe), Nick Leibold (Heritage); 9:06 a.m.: Trevor Olkowski (Grand Junction), Russell Otten (Arapahoe), Reese Leiker (Heritage); 9:15 a.m.: Donny Kinnaman (Grand Junction), Sam Marley (Arapahoe), Hunter Lee (Heritage); 9:24 a.m.: Kevin Wohlfarth (Fairview), Kobe Padilla (Cherry Creek), Ashton Opperman (Columbine); 9:33 a.m.: Jackson Vacek (Fairview), Jackson Burke (Cherry Creek), Marcus Tait (Columbine); 9:42 a.m.: Daniel Pearson (Fairview), Cole Edwards (Cherry Creek), Greg Shelton (Columbine); 9:51 a.m.: Cason McHose (Fairview), Will Matthews (Cherry Creek), Michael Tait (Columbine); 10 a.m.: JACK LAZZERI (REGIS JESUIT), Garrett Jones (Ralston Valley), Leo Heuttel (Boulder); 10:09 a.m.: CHRIS KORTE (REGIS JESUIT), Neil Tillman (Ralston Valley), Alec Poorman (Boulder); 10:18 a.m.: JAKE KELLEY (REGIS JESUIT), Roy Carlsen (Ralston Valley), Grant Dinkle (Boulder); 10:27 a.m.: SPENCER PAINTON (REGIS JESUIT), Keegan Sheard (Ralston Valley), Grant Rogers (Boulder)
8:30 a.m.: Cole Bundy (Loveland), Spencer Roberts (Legacy), Brooks Hoffman (Fossil Ridge); 8:39 a.m.: Evan Buchalski (Loveland), Trevor Glen (Legacy), Eric Hill (Fossil Ridge); 8:48 a.m.: Alex Steine (Loveland), Li Chen (Legacy), Hunter Sullivan (Fossil Ridge); 8:57 a.m.: Grant Olinger (Pomona), Zach Moritz (Legacy), Will Thwaites (Fossil Ridge); 9:06 a.m.: Josh Pusar (Rock Canyon), AJ Ott (Fort Collins), Kyler Dunkle (Douglas County); 9:15 a.m.: Max Pederson (Rock Canyon), Bobby Eckles (Fort Collins), Dillon Loomis (Douglas County); 9:24 a.m.: Tyler Zhang (Highlands Ranch), Hunter Paugh (Fort Collins), Nick Smith (Douglas County); 9:33 a.m.: BRADLEY SCALIA (CHEROKEE TRAIL), Ryan Peterson (Highlands Ranch), Kevin Liao (Lakewood); 9:42 a.m.: Troy Dangler (Fruita), Anthony Augelli (Doherty), Weston Mauz (Lakewood); 9:51 a.m.: DEVYN SOLANO (GRANDVIEW), Brandon Speer (Fruita), Alex Gumper (Palmer); 10 a.m.: KYLE CARR (GRANDVIEW), Chris Raap (Mountain Vista), Alan Berry (Chatfield); 10:09 a.m.: Austin Hardman (Mountain Vista), Andrew Hewitt (Standley Lake), Christian Madden (Pine Creek); 10:18 a.m.: PAUL CLEVELAND (SMOKY HILL), Ian Grams (Bear Creek), Jack Matchinsky (ThunderRidge); 10:27 a.m.: KYLE COLEN (SMOKY HILL), Brock Dowdy (Denver East), Austin Umland (Prairie View)
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel