GRAND JUNCTION | A dramatic final day at the Class 5A boys state golf tournament Sept. 27 saw plenty of hardware end up in the hands of golfers from Aurora programs.
For the second straight season, Regis Jesuit got to hoist the 5A state championship trophy in the same manner, with a victory by a single stroke.
In 2015, it was Coronado and Lakewood that finished one shot behind the Raiders, but over two days of play at Bookcliff Country Club, it turned out to be Continental League rival Highlands Ranch that gave coach Craig Rogers’ team the biggest run for the crown.
Led by an unconscious Kyle Pearson — who won the individual medalist honors with a stunning 9-under-par performance — the Falcons took a small lead over Regis Jesuit at one point during the final round, only to see the Raiders’ remarkable depth make the difference Regis Jesuit claimed the program’s sixth 5A state championship in the past seven seasons.
Junior Drew Anderson — who didn’t even start the season on Regis Jesuit’s top varsity five after a grueling tryout process — played the best round of any player from an Aurora school on the second day with a 1-under-par 70 to aid the cause.
Anderson and fellow junior Cal McCoy (who shot 71 in the second round) finished in a tie for sixth overall at 3-over for two days, while seniors Justin Markel and Tyler Zhang finished tied for 14th and 16th, respectively, for the Raiders.
Zhang, who made the biggest shot of last season’s state tournament win for Regis Jesuit when he stepped up and made a clutch birdie on Hole No. 18 at the Fort Collins Country Club, shot 77 in the final round, but his teammates picked him up.
Eaglecrest junior Davis Bryant nearly gave Aurora the individual championship as well, but nobody would be able to keep up with Pearson — who was in Davis’ group — on this day.
Bryant shot a 5-under-par 66 in the opening round Sept. 26 and got as low as 6-under with a birdie on the opening hole of the second round, but three bogeys in the final eight holes brought him in at 3-under for the tournament.
The finish marked the best performance for an individual in Eaglecrest’s program history and continued Bryant’s rapid yearly rise at the state tournament, as he came in tied for 30th as a freshman and 12th as a sophomore.
Pearson came into the day tied with Bryant for second place — one stroke behind first round leader Nick Caldwell of Rock Canyon, who eventually finished third — but made it impossible for anybody to stay with him. He dropped three strokes in a two-hole stretch with an ace on the par-3 Hole No. 15.
Cherokee Trail senior Bradley Scalia followed an opening round 75 with the same score in the second round to tie for 16th, which gave him his best career finish in four trips to the state tournament.
Scalia’s previous best result came as a freshman in 2012 when he tied for 17th at Murphy Creek G.C.
Grandview senior Brandon Armitage made his first trip to the state tournament count, as he shot solid rounds of 78 and 76 to finish in a tie for 29th.
Armitage played a strong second round with one birdie and nothing more than a bogey, while teammate and fellow senior Danny Taggart shot 81 and 83 to tie for 60th.
Smoky Hill senior Kyle Colen — appearing at state for the first time since his freshman year — carded a 78 in his second round to finish tied for 45th, while teammate Christopher Kennedy was 70th.
Senior Michael Milton came in 66th as the first golfer for Gateway at state since 2007.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2016 CLASS 5A BOYS STATE GOLF TOURNAMENT
Sept. 26-27 at Bookcliff Country Club (Grand Junction)
Team scores (par 213-213): 1. REGIS JESUIT 220-216 — 436; 2. Highlands Ranch 225-212 — 437; 3. Lakewood 227-222 — 449; 4. Fossil Ridge 225-225 — 450; 5. Rock Canyon 222-231 — 453; 6. Cherry Creek 232-226 — 458; 7. Arapahoe 232-233 — 465; 8. Fairview 234-233 — 467; 9. Fruita Monument 234-239 — 473; 10. Heritage 240-244 — 484; 11. Chaparral 253-253 — 506
Top 10 individuals (par 71-71 — 142): 1. Kyle Pearson (Highlands Ranch) 66-67 — 133; 2. DAVIS BRYANT (EAGLECREST) 66-73 — 139; 3. Nick Caldwell (Rock Canyon) 65-75 — 140; T4. Daniel Pearson (Fairview) 73-69 — 142; T4. Griffin Barela (Lakewood) 71-71 — 142; T6. DREW ANDERSON (REGIS JESUIT) 74-70 — 144; T6. CAL MCCOY (REGIS JESUIT) 73-71 — 144; T6. Arik Roberts (Palmer) 73-71 — 144; T9. Trevor Olkowski (Grand Junction) 74-71 — 145; T9. Josh Caridi (Fossil Ridge) 73-72 — 145; T9. Kailer Rundiks (Denver East) 73-72 — 145
Aurora individuals (par 71-71 — 142): 2. Davis Bryant (Eaglecrest) 66-73 — 139; T6. Drew Anderson (Regis Jesuit) 74-70 — 144; T6. Cal McCoy (Regis Jesuit) 73-71 — 144; T14. Justin Markel (Regis Jesuit) 74-75 — 149; T16. Bradley Scalia (Cherokee Trail) 75-75 — 150; T16. Tyler Zhang (Regis Jesuit) 73-77 — 150; T29. Brandon Armitage (Grandview) 78-76 — 154; T45. Kyle Colen (Smoky Hill) 81-78 — 159; T60. Danny Taggart (Grandview) 81-83 — 164; 66. Michael Milton (Gateway) 86-80 — 166; T70. Christopher Kennedy (Smoky Hill) 88-82 — 170