FRUITA | The Eaglecrest boys golf team made history Monday, as it qualified as a team for the Class 5A state tournament for the first time.
In more than three decades since it opened, Eaglecrest had multiple individual state qualifiers at the same time, but never a full four-member team. That changed with the Raptors’ performance at the 5A Western Region tournament at Adobe National Golf Course, where they earned one of two automatic state qualifying spots.
Senior Andrew White earned his way into his fourth career state tournament in style by winning medalist honors with a 2-under-par 71 on the Mesa-Desert course and freshman brother Gregory was just three strokes behind in a tie for fourth that brought Eaglecrest in just four strokes behind regional winner Highlands Ranch.
“We knew we had a special group, so I’m not surprised, but we needed that good third score to make it happen,” said Eaglecrest coach Stan Adams, who has coached the program from the beginning, but was not present due to recent hip surgery.
That third score came from junior Noah Bennett, who turned in a 79 — capped by four straight pars to end his round — that brought the Raptors in four strokes clear of ThunderRidge for the second qualifying team spot. Senior Preston Unrein is also state-bound for Eaglecrest after he shot 82.
Assistant coach John Olander coached the team in Adams’ absence (with Bob Poulter along to help out) and said the group came into the tournament loose and hopeful after it had been competitive all season in the rugged Centennial League.
“We were only a handful of shots out in every Centennial League match, so I think our guys knew we had a good team and we kept telling them that if we could put three solid rounds together at regionals that we could go to state,” Olander said. “They had a competitive mindset all year and they didn’t play tight. They enjoy being around each other so much that I think the camaraderie of this group makes a difference.”
Adams had seen some close calls in years past as far as getting a team to state, but in some cases there was only one team qualifying spot available in regionals or Eaglecrest had to try to make it through loaded regionals. The redistribution of teams by the Colorado High School Activities Association based on league finish in recent years has helped create chances like the one the Raptors took advantage of.
“Golf is hard, so this is an accomplishment for the kids,” Adams said. “They put in so much time and worked so hard, so I feel good for them.”
The 5A boys golf state tournament is Oct. 3-4 at City Park G.C. in Denver.
Also qualified for the state tournament among programs is the Cherokee Trail duo of Brayden Forte and Christopher O’Donnell, who made it through the 5A Northern Region tournament at Flatirons G.C. in Boulder.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2022 CLASS 5A WESTERN REGION BOYS GOLF TOURNAMENT
Team scores (top two teams qualify for state): 1. Highlands Ranch 220; 2. EAGLECREST 224; 3. ThunderRidge 228; 4. Ralston Valley 230; 5. Douglas County 237; 6. Legacy 239; 7. Fruita Monument 241; 8. Chatfield 248; 9. Liberty 254
Top 15 individuals (par 73): 1. ANDREW WHITE (EAGLECREST) 71; 2. Billy Verstraate 72; 3. Deacon Colwell (Ralston Valley) 73; T4. GREGORY WHITE (EAGLECREST) 74; T4. Nas Kim (Highlands Ranch) 74; T4. Jack Bakken (Highlands Ranch) 74; T7. Austin Hunt (ThunderRidge) 75; T7. Aiden Krusoe (Highlands Ranch) 75; T9. Dylan Everett (ThunderRidge) 76; T9. Talen Turnbaugh (Douglas County) 76; T11. Ben Cerretani (Legacy) 77; T11. Cooper Brennan (Horizon) 77; T11. Ryan Oro (ThunderRidge) 77; T14. Ben Mackert (ThunderRidge) 78; T14. Jesse Hand (Chatfield) 78; T14. Jordan McCaslin (Ralston Valley) 78; T14. Luke Tourault (Legacy) 78; T14. Hunter Glasser (Douglas County) 78
Aurora team result
Eaglecrest (224): 1. Andrew White 71; T4. Gregory White 74; T19. Noah Bennett 79; T24. Preston Unrein 82