Cherokee Trail sophomore Bead Boonta watches her approach shot on Hole No. 15 during the second round of the Class 5A girls state golf tournament played on June 22, 2021, at City Park G.C. in Denver. Boonta shot a 2-under-par 68 on the day — a 14-shot improvement over the first round — and finished in sixth place. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

DENVER | Playing with some familiar faces, the pressure of playing the second round of the Class 5A girls state golf tournament faded away for Bead Boonta Tuesday.

Competing in her first state tournament after last season’s chance was wiped away by the coronavirus pandemic, the Cherokee Trail sophomore struggled a bit on the opening day of the two-day tournament at City Park G.C., but found her groove in the second round.

Boonta relaxed while playing with Cherry Creek’s Alyssa Chin and Arapahoe’s Molly Stratton — who she knew from Centennial League play during the regular season — and she had a ball on her way to shooting a 2-under-par 68 to rocket up the leaderboard and finish alone in sixth place.

The 68 represented the second-lowest round of any of the 84 competitors in the field over the two days, two strokes behind the 66 shot in the second round by Loveland’s Katelyn Lehigh, who took 5A medalist honors.

Boonta accomplished her feat with a smile on her face during a round in which she finished 14 strokes better than the previous day. She recorded three birdies on the front nine to counter three bogies and made the turn at even par, where she stayed through 14 holes.

Holes No. 15 and No. 16 tripped her up the first day, but Boonta birdied both consecutively to go under par and stayed there with two pars to finish a climb from a time for 18th coming into the day to sixth.

Coincidentally, Boonta finished in the same place at the state tournament as her older brother Beam took as a sophomore in the 5A boys state tournament in 2017.

Boonta’s two teammates in the field — junior Devin Gilbreath and senior Abigail Rupeka — also both had better second rounds as coach Justin Jajczyk’s Cougars finished in ninth place in the team standings.

Gilbreath improved by 10 strokes from her opening round with an 80 that put her in a tie for 32nd, while Rupeka — who was a later addition to the tournament after finishing as an alternate at regionals — shot five strokes better and tied for 75th.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

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