Against the backdrop of one of the most competitive Class 5A state tournaments in recent memory, Eaglecrest rose to the occasion.
The Raptors qualified for the state tournament as a four-player team for the first time in program history — which stretches back more than three decades — and they made the most of their appearance Oct. 3-4 at City Park G.C.
Fifth place in the Centennial League standings for the season, Eaglecrest finished in a tie with Cherry Creek for fifth place in the final standings of the entire state and shared high honors for the loaded league.
“To finish tied with Cherry Creek and a couple of spots ahead of Arapahoe — teams you think will usually be in contention to win a state championship — shows how well our kids played over these two days,” Eaglecrest assistant coach John Olander said.
“These guys worked so hard for this and to see that pay off for them is pretty cool.”
Full team scores and individual 5A state results, here
The Raptors were led by freshman Gregory White, who closed with a fantastic round of 1-under-par 69 to move up the leaderboard and finish in a tie for eighth place.
He debuted with a 71 and then shaved off two more strokes with a three-birdie round that could have been better if a few short misses had fallen.
“I’m really happy, I didn’t expect to get top 10, but I just wanted to have fun the entire time,” said White, who finished just one stroke out of a four-way tie for fourth place, two out of a two-way tie for second and just three behind winner Caleb Michaels of Monarch.
“There’s always shots where you think if you hit it slightly better or made this putt it would be different, but it doesn’t take away from the experience,” he added.
When he finished his round, White — who posted Eaglecrest’s top individual finish at the 5A state tournament since Davis Bryant won the state title in 2017 — was greeted with a hug and smile from older brother, Andrew, who watched his last few holes after he finished with a plus-1 71 to finish his fourth career state tournament appearance.
After a 78 in the opening round left him tied for 59th on a loaded leaderboard, Andrew White improved enough to finish in a tie for 38th. His best career finish came as a freshman in 2019, when he tied for 14th place.
In his first state tournament, junior Noah Bennett — who came in with a goal to break 80 both days — shot rounds of 72 and 76 to finish in a tie for 36th, while senior Preston Unrein shot a 75 (five strokes better in his second round than in his first) and finished in a tie for 62nd for coach Stan Adams’ Eaglecrest team.
The other team score for an Aurora program came from Regis Jesuit, which finished in 15th place. Coach Craig Rogers’ Raiders shot 20 strokes better in the second round than in the first, but were unable to move up due to a lot of stellar play by teams in front of them.
Senior Jake Irvine posted Regis Jesuit’s top result for the second straight season as he followed up a 16th-place showing in 2021 with a tie for 36th place this season after rounds of 75 and 73.
Sophomore Roland Thornton tied for 44th, senior Eli Handler shot 76 in the second round after 90 in the opening round and senior Cole Dewey shot 73 in the second round after he was disqualified from the opening round for self-reporting an incorrect scorecard.
White wasn’t the only freshman from an Aurora program to shoot under par, as Cherokee Trail’s Brayden Forte matched him with a 1-under 69 in his second round, which brought him in 11 strokes ahead of his opening round. He made four birdies in his last 18 holes.
A triple bogey on the par-5 Hole No. 9 in the first round held Forte down on the leaderboard as he finished in a tie for 38th place.
Forte’s teammate, sophomore Christopher O’Donnell, shot rounds of 79 and 76 to finish in a tie for 62nd. He shot seven strokes lower this year than in 2021, when he finished in a tie for 52nd place.
Grandview junior Michael Rosman played in the state tournament for the first time and shot rounds of 78 and 77 to finish in a tie for 62nd place.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports