Carbondale Meghan Innes has a bone to pick with golfing legend Jack Nicholas.
"His course was beautiful, but it wasn't very forgiving," the Moffat County sophomore said after playing the Nicholas-designed Aspen Glen Golf Club. "If you stay safe, you're OK, but one bad shot, and you're in trouble."
Innes and teammate, junior Amber Nicholson, managed to stay out of trouble relative to the rest of the field at Tuesday's Class 4A Western Slope Regional Golf Tournament. The Bulldogs were two of 10 golfers to break 100 for 18 holes, and both qualified for the state tournament.
Unfortunately for the team, the number "2" was a theme. The Bulldogs finished second as a team, 10 strokes behind rival Rifle. Only the regional champion can take its team to state.
"We beat Rifle all year, and then they get us at the big meet," coach Ann Marie Hamilton said. "It's great to have two girls going to state, but these girls really wanted to take home the team title."
Nicholson's 93 earned her a three-way tie for second and her first trip to state.
Innes' round of 94 placed her fifth and qualified her for state for the second time.
"I'm glad that Amber is going with me this year," Innes said. "It will be more fun to have a teammate with me."
Nicholson had a playoff to decide who was the outright winner of second place. She tied with Rifle's Ashley Chastain and Trisha Wailes.
On the fourth hole of the playoff, Wailes earned a par to earn second place. Nicholson's par on the hole earned her third place.
Innes struggled on the first nine holes.
"This year there was more pressure for me because I went to state last year," she said. "I also really wanted the team to win."
She shot a 51 for the first nine holes.
"I picked myself back up for the back nine," she said.
Innes played much better the second nine, shooting a six-over 43.
"I had to relax a little," she said. "I could have done better, but at least I'm going to state."
Nicholson went through the first nine holes with a 45. She double bogeyed and tripled bogeyed the last two holes to drop into the tie for second.
The final two holes didn't make too much of a difference, but Nicholson was happy to qualify.
"I choked last year," she said. "I didn't feel like I golfed very consistent today, but it was a tough course."
The two state-bound golfers have less than a week to prepare for the state tournament Monday and Tuesday in Pueblo.
A tough go
Seniors Amy Coulter and Chelsey Herod hoped to be a part of the first Bulldog team to win a regional.
It wasn't their day, and the Bulldogs have placed second in the region three times in the past four years.
Coulter fought shoulder pain during the second half of the season, and on Tuesday, the pain was a factor.
"I hit a lot of divots, and I normally wouldn't do that," she said. "During the practice round (on Monday), it hurt, and it didn't get any better today."
Coulter's score of 120 included several double-digit scores on holes.
"I sat down once today and said, 'I can't do this anymore,'" she said. "At least I get to have surgery now and try to play pain free again sometime."
Herod was trying out her new good-luck charms at the tournament, bright pink Crocs. She shot a personal best 93 the first time she wore them in a tournament two weeks ago.
The Crocs weren't enough to help Herod in the long fairways.
"I don't have a super long drive," she said. "The long course didn't play to my strengths."
Herod turned in a 106.
"I'm not disappointed," she said. "That was about at my average for this year."
Herod and Coulter finished their careers by earning honorable mention all-league honors for their golfing during the season.
Hamilton wished she could take her seniors to state, but she was glad to have two going.
"Those two are tight and it will be fun," she said. "It's tough to be the best team all year and then not put it together at regionals, but what can you do?"
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or email@example.com.