A few months ago, playing golf was the farthest thing from Sha Jefferson’s mind.
In May, the Vista PEAK junior suffered a number of severe injuries in a dirt bike accident that left his golf season in doubt.
Jefferson just missed ripping open his carotid artery on a tree branch and escaped the crash with a broken rib, fractured collarbone and left hand broke in two places. Mostly healed up, Jefferson’s golf game has never been better and he’s set to play in the Class 4A boys state golf tournament Oct. 2-3.
“There was a lot of doubt that I was going to make it this season because of my injury,” Jefferson said. “It gives me a different perspective and taught me to think twice before I make a decision.”
Jefferson admitted he didn’t think twice when he got on a bike at a friend’s house in wet conditions.
He lost control of the bike, crashed into a tree branch — which left a large scar on the right side of his neck, but thankfully just missed doing worse damage — and ended up hitting a wrought-iron fence.
“I knew when I stepped on the bike that it could either go good or bad,” Jefferson said. “I took the risky way and ended up in the accident and had to spend nine hours in the hospital. It was a brutal first couple of months of summer.”
Surgery on his hand would have scrubbed his junior season completely, so Jefferson chose four weeks in a cast and three weeks in a brace instead. As he recovered from his assorted injuries, Jefferson missed a large number of summer tournaments he’d hoped to play in.
It was a difficult hiatus from a game Jefferson came to love after his dad exposed it to him as a youngster and which he chose in the last five years after giving up the physical rigors of football.
By the time golf tryouts rolled around in August, Jefferson felt better — though pain kicked in early in tournaments a few times — and he’s progressed well during the season. A few twinges in his back hasn’t hampered him much.
Jefferson had two rounds in the high 70s this season and earned second team All-EMAC honors. He became Vista PEAK’s first state qualifier when he made it in 2015 and earned his second trip to state with a round of 82 at the 4A Region 1 tournament in Pueblo Sept. 18.
He literally has nowhere to go but up from his first trip to the state tournament.
As a freshman, Jefferson finished a distant 84th out of 84 players in the 4A field at Fox Hill Country Club in Longmont. He shot rounds of 102 and 117 to come in a full 36 strokes behind the golfer in 83rd.
“I was super nervous and I got intimidated, it definitely got into my head,” Jefferson recalled.
Now armed with confidence, maturity and better skills from a game his dad introduced him to as a youngster, Jefferson has a goal of a top half finish in this season’s tournament at Raccoon Creek G.C. in Littleton. He was set for a practice round Oct. 1 and hoped to continue his recent spate of solid putting (no three-putts in his last two tournaments) there.
While Jefferson is the only Aurora player in the 4A state tournament, there are plenty in the 5A state tournament Oct. 2-3 at CommonGround Golf Course.
Eaglecrest senior Davis Bryant has the state title firmly in his sites and has played like a serious state championship contender all season.
Bryant has finished higher every year at the state tournament over the course of his career and hopes to continue that trend, as he finished second last year behind now-graduated Kyle Pearson of Highlands Ranch.
Bryant is especially excited to play at CommonGround G.C., where he believes he can shoot some very low scores. The Centenial League played its final tournament on the Aurora course Sept. 12 and Bryant shot a 4-under-par 67 to win by two strokes.
The future Colorado State golfer finished at or under par in every tournament this season and if that continues he’ll have a chance to finish atop the leaderboard.
Regis Jesuit senior Cal McCoy is likely to make a run at the individual state title as well, while trying to help coach Craig Rogers’ Raiders win a third consecutive 5A team championships.
McCoy — a University of Denver commitment — took a definite liking to the state course in the second Continental League tournament of the season on Aug. 14. He shot a 4-under-par 67 to win by four strokes and should be in the title mix with a similar score.
Besides McCoy, senior Drew Anderson returns from last season’s championship-winning Regis Jesuit team and shot 77 in the first trip to CommonGround.
Senior Cameron Kirke shot a 73 on the state course and will try to replicate that in his first trip to state, while junior Walker Fuller missed some of the early season tournaments, but is coming off a strong performance in regional play.
Aurora’s 5A state contingent is rounded out by Smoky Hill junior Christopher Kennedy, who makes his third trip to state, along with first time state qualifier Beam Boonta, a Cherokee Trail sophomore.
Kennedy tied for 70th last season and was 63rd as a freshman. He shot 73 in the last league tournament on the state course, the same meet that saw Boonta fire a 76.
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 STATE GOLF 1ST ROUND TEE TIMES
Class 4A (at Raccoon Creek G.C.) — Tee 10: Sha Jefferson (Vista PEAK), 8:39 a.m.
Class 5A (at CommonGround G.C.) — Tee 1: Beam Boonta (Cherokee Trail), 8:30 a.m.; Davis Bryant (Eaglecrest), 8:30 a.m.; Walker Fuller (Regis Jesuit), 9:15 a.m.; Cal McCoy (Regis Jesuit), 9:24 a.m.; Drew Anderson (Regis Jesuit), 9:33 a.m.; Cameron Kirke (Regis Jesuit), 9:42 a.m.; Tee 10: Chris Kennedy (Smoky Hill), 8:30 a.m.