Morgan Sahm and Mary Weinstein spent the second round of the Class 5A girls state golf tournament laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
The Aurora senior standouts, from Grandview and Regis Jesuit, respectively, have known each other since they were 10 and got to play together in the final group May 24 at CommonGround Golf Course.
In the end, both had reasons to smile as Weinstein won the 5A individual state championship and Sahm’s Wolves captured their first 5A state team title. It was the first time since 2010 that Aurora schools produced an individual (Overland’s Somin Lee in 5A) and team champion (Regis Jesuit in 4A) in the same season.
“I’ve grown up playing with Mary since I was 10 and so it was really cool to see her win,” said Sahm, who finished third in her fourth career top-nine state finish.
“I’m so proud of her winning individually, she really deserves it,” she added. “It was really cool to have her by my side for my last round of high school. It couldn’t have been better.”
With the exception of some short missed putts on the final hole — which weren’t a threat to the big lead she’d built, but bugged her nonetheless — Weinstein put on a clinic to become Regis Jesuit’s first individual champion.
With her future college coach from Regis University in the gallery, Weinstein topped the Raiders’ previous best individual finish of second accomplished twice by Kathleen Kershisnik (2009 & 2012) and last season by Sydney Gillespie, who finished as the 5A runner-up in a rain-shortened tournament.
While her immediate memory was her four-putt bogey on Hole No. 18 — which brought her in at 3-under for the day and 4-under for the tournament — Weinstein relished her finale as a prep player.
“The whole day was really fun; to have this experience and play with Morgan in our last high school tournament was amazing,” Weinstein said. “It was great to represent Regis Jesuit that way and it’s the first win for girls golf, so I’m really proud about that.”
Weinstein’s previous best finish was seventh last season, but she was in control pretty much from start to finish. She was the only player to shoot under par in Monday’s first round and got as low as 5-under with a birdie on No. 16.
The Raiders also had junior Jaclyn Murray — part of the 5A state championship-winning teams in 2014 and 2015 — finished in the top 10 with her seventh-place result, while seniors Ali Timlin and Brooke Pulver took 32nd and 46th, respectively.
“Our eight shot lead was obviously taken away, but I’m obviously really proud of them; having been in this spot before (as a player at Regis Jesuit), it’s not easy to finish in a situation like that,” first-year coach Eric Ptolemy said.
“It was fun to see it come down to the wire like that and it adds some good drama, which I know fans like. While I’m bummed for the team, I’m really happy for Mary. She’s been raising the bar for the last four years, but this sets a new standard.”
Grandview just proved to have too much depth this season, especially with the arrival of Chitkoksoong, an accomplished young player whose presence immediately made coach Mary Danielson believe that the Wolves could win a state title this season.
Facing an eight-shot deficit after one round, Danielson didn’t doubt her team was capable of a comeback.
“We didn’t put a lot of pressure on them today, we just wanted them to go out and play their game,” Danielson said. “We were nervous yesterday, but we played lights out today and I couldn’t be more proud of the girls.”
An hour-long delay due to lightning and rain on the course — with players rushed off the course to the clubhouse — helped the Wolves evaluate where they were in the team chase.
Chitkoksoong thrived on her chipping and finished the final round at 4-under to claim second place in her debut.
The diminutive freshman was especially thrilled with her birdie on the par-4 Hole No. 4 — which she’d taken an eight on the day before due to a mental error — and it launched a string of four straight birdies on her front nine that
She was especially steady on the final holes, including a birdie on Hole No. 18 which features a blind approach to the green.
“We just pushed through those last holes,” an emotional Chitkoksoong said. “I didn’t think I was going to be in tears, but I’m getting there. We worked so hard this whole year.”
Sophomore Caitlin O’Donnell came through with a four-stroke improvement in her second round to aid the cause and freshman Morgan Ryan also improved by a stroke in the second round with her 89, though her score was’t needed.
O’Donnell and Ryan finished well before their teammates and got to watch Sahm and Chitkoksoong get what the team needed to win.
“It was really nerve-wracking; I was just sitting on the green on No. 18 hoping that some of those puts went in and they did,” O’Donnell said.
Sahm wasn’t over the moon about her two rounds – 75 and 73 — but she chipped onto the green on Hole No. 18 and made a par to seal a two-shot victory for the team.
“I’m so happy to end my final round at Grandview as a state champion,” said Sahm, who thought at the end of last season that the Wolves could win.
“I’m overwhelmed,” she added.
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 GIRLS STATE GOLF TOURNAMENT
May 23-24 at CommonGround Golf Course
Team scores (par 216-216 — 432): 1. GRANDVIEW 238-224 — 462; 2. REGIS JESUIT 230-234 — 464; 3. Arvada West 249-230 — 479; 4. Ralston Valley 244-244 — 488; 5. Heritage 254-243 — 497; T6. Cherry Creek 250-253 — 503; T6. Rock Canyon 250-253 — 503; T8. Denver East 258-251 — 509; T8. Fossil Ridge 256-253 — 509; 11. Monarch 257-253 — 510; 12. Broomfield 266-252 — 518; 13. Highlands Ranch 270-260 — 530; 14. Legacy 271-268 — 539; 15. Fairview 276-264 — 540; 16. Pine Creek 278-295 — 573
Top 10 individuals (par 72-72 — 144): 1. MARY WEINSTEIN (REGIS JESUIT) 71-69 — 140; 2. AMY CHITKOKSOONG (GRANDVIEW) 76-68 — 144; 3. MORGAN SAHM (GRANDVIEW) 75-73 — 148; 4. Delaney Elliott (Monarch) 75-76 — 151; 5. Jordan Remley (Ralston Valley) 75-77 — 152; 6. Ali Peper (Arvada West) 83-71 — 154; 7. JACLYN MURRAY (REGIS JESUIT) 76-79 — 155; 8. Leigha Devine (Fossil Ridge) 79-77 — 156; T9. Julia Baroth (Denver East) 81-77 — 158; T9. Lauren Lehigh (Loveland) 81-77 — 158; T9. Joanna Kempton (Heritage) 79-79 — 158
Aurora individuals: 1. Mary Weinstein (Regis Jesuit) 71-69 — 140; 2. Amy Chitkoksoong (Grandview) 76-68 — 144; 3. Morgan Sahm (Grandview) 75-73 — 148; 7. Jaclyn Murray (Regis Jesuit) 76-79 — 155; T13. Amisha Singh (Smoky Hill) 79-82 — 161; T30. Caitlin O’Donnell (Grandview) 87-83 — 170; T32. Ali Timlin (Regis Jesuit) 85-86 — 171; T46. Brooke Pulver (Regis Jesuit) 83-94 — 177; T51. Morgan Ryan (Grandview) 90-89 — 179; 73. Alix Mees (Cherokee Trail) 95-101 — 196; 74. Brooke Kramer (Cherokee Trail) 99-98 — 197