Girls Golf: Regis Jesuit overcomes early struggles, cruises to Metro West Regional title

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ARVADA | Monday’s Class 4A Metro West Regional started out a fizzle, but ended with a bang for the Regis Jesuit girls golf team.

Senior Kathleen Kershisnik and freshman Sydney Gillespie rescued rounds-gone-wrong on the front nine and posted the top two scores for the Raiders, helping them to a 16-stroke victory over Valor Christian at West Woods Golf Club.

Kershisnik carded a 7-over-par 79 and Gillespie came in with a 9-over 81 for Regis Jesuit, which also got an 82 from Sofia Vigil and a 91 from Lauren Richardson to cruise to a third consecutive regional championship.

The Raiders secured the automatic team berth in the Class 4A state tournament May 21-22 at Boomerang Golf Course in Greeley, but not before giving coach George Miller an early scare with their poor starts.

“After about five holes, I was getting these reports that we were 7-over and 5-over and 8-over and I’m thinking ‘wow, this could be bad,’ but they just hung in there and did fine,” Miller said. “This is a pretty darn good team if we play well and we didn’t really do that today, but we got it done.”

The tournament was rescheduled from a week earlier, when the players got through eight holes in a downpour before play was canceled.

In the new regional round, Kershisnik — who is headed to her fourth straight state tournament — struggled from the start at sat 7-over after just seven holes, but pulled it together enough to shoot even par over the final 11 holes to post the second-best score of the day behind freshman Jennifer Kupcho of Jefferson Academy, who had a 72.

“I just took several deep breaths and I knew I had to put a smile on my face or it wasn’t going to go well,” Kershisnik said. “I told Sydney I was proud of her too. I think this team has a lot of mental toughness, which is really good to see before state. If we get down, we can bring ourselves back up, but hopefully we bring our A game.”

The round looked even more doomed for Gillespie, who was 8-over after just four holes and wasn’t hitting the ball well off the tee. But she lifted herself up, found a groove and rode her usual strong putting to a score that put her only behind Kupcho, Valor Christian’s Tori Glenn (79) and Kershisnik.

“I thought about how it was a team effort and I thought ‘I know I can play better and I have all the shots,'” Gillespie said. “Just believing in myself and changing my confidence level made a huge difference.”

On the steadier side was Vigil, who has been a part of each regional championship team and shot 41s on the front and back nine to finish with the fifth-best score of 82. The junior was part of the Raiders’ 4A state championship team as a freshman in 2010 along with Kershisnik.

Richardson’s score didn’t count in the team total (the top three scores), but her 91 would have still given the Raiders the title and would have gotten her in individually as well.

NOTES: Regis Jesuit plays in the Cheyenne Mountain Invitational at the Broadmoor Mountain Course on Tuesday, competing against a field of quality teams that includes host Cheyenne Mountain and Pueblo South, the defending 4A state champion. …The Raiders plan to play a practice round at Boomerang on Sunday.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555

CLASS 4A METRO WEST GIRLS GOLF REGIONAL

At West Woods Golf Club, May 14

Team scores: 1. REGIS JESUIT 242, 2. Valor Christian 258, 3. Golden 280, 4. Green Mountain 282, 5. Colorado Academy 300, 6. Jefferson Academy 301, 7. Evergreen 314, 8. Mullen 316, 9. D’Evelyn 328, 10. St. Mary’s Academy 330, 11. Wheat Ridge 347, 12. Arvada 354, 13. Kent Denver 364, 14. Machebeuf 388, 15. Thomas Jefferson 410, 16. Kennedy 432, Denver South, Denver West, Englewood, Peak to Peak no score

Team state qualifier (Regis Jesuit): Kathleen Kershisnik 79, Sydney Gillespie 81, Sofia Vigil 82, Lauren Richardson 91

Individual state qualifiers (par 72): Jennifer Kupcho (Jefferson Acad.) 72; Tori Glenn (Valor Christian) 79; Alex Trask (Machebeuf) 84; Karli Denk (Golden) 86; Laura Cohan (Valor Christian) 89; Sarah Belmear (Valor Christian) 90; Emilee Strausburg (D’Evelyn) 91; Nicole Beale (Mullen) 92; Rachael Joha (Golden) 92; Emma Johnson (Colorado Academy) 92; Jaclyn Fields (Green Mountain) 94; Leandra Nikont (Green Mountain) 94; Nicole Rooney (Green Mountain) 94; Samantha Salazar (Arvada) 94; Madison Tenney (Evergreen) 95; Ashley Roo (Valor Christian) 97; 1st alternate: Sirena Alvarado (Green Mountain) 98; 2nd alternate: Hayley Lansing (St. Mary’s Academy) 99