Members of the Moffat County High School golf team. Front row from left: Wesley Whiffen, Parker King, Nick Moyer, Mark Dockstader, Ty DeGuelle, Taylor Branstetter and Trey Jourgensen. Back row from left: Colby Haddan, Erick Leonard, John Strahan, Jake Steele, Alex McKey, Eli Voyich and Ethan O'Mailia.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Members of the Moffat County High School golf team. Front row from left: Wesley Whiffen, Parker King, Nick Moyer, Mark Dockstader, Ty DeGuelle, Taylor Branstetter and Trey Jourgensen. Back row from left: Colby Haddan, Erick Leonard, John Strahan, Jake Steele, Alex McKey, Eli Voyich and Ethan O'Mailia.

Back in the swing of things

MCHS boys golf team returns to the links

At a glance

Team information

League: Western Slope League Class 4A

Coach: Ken Harjes

Assistant Coach: Eric Hansen

Harjes with the Bulldogs: 28th year

Returnees: seven

Players lost: one

Dates to circle

Sept. 4 - Moffat County hosts the Bulldog Invitational at Yampa Valley Golf Course.

Sept. 23 - MCHS travels to compete in the 4A state regional tournament in Aspen. MCHS hasn't had a state qualifier since 2002.

Oct. 6 and 7 - 4A boys high school state championship, Yampa Valley Golf Course. This Championship crowns the top 4A high school male golfer and team for the state of Colorado. The two-day event features 36 holes of stroke play. Team score based on the best three out of four individual scores each round. Trophy awarded to first- and second-place teams. Medals awarded to top-10 individuals.

Players to watch

Nick Moyer (senior) - Placed third in 2008 ACE junior summer golf tour.

Led MCHS in stroke average as a junior.

Mark Dockstader (sophomore) - Ken Harjes said Dockstader could be the surprise of the season.

Taylor Branstetter (junior) - Harjes said Branstetter has a good head for the game of golf and spends endless hours practicing on the course.

Teams to watch

Montrose. Harjes said the Indians annually field one of the top teams in the state. He expects the same this season.

Rifle. Harjes said the Bears return a talented and deep roster.

Cortez. The Panthers' top-three ball strikers consistently have shot below 80 at each of their tournaments this season.

Summer vacation ended earlier than usual this year for the Moffat County High School boys golf team.

Practice/tryouts for the Bulldog ball strikers began Aug. 4 at Yampa Valley Golf Course, signaling the much-anticipated beginning of the MCHS fall sports season.

High School golf - unlike the other fall sport's teams - began tournament play a full two weeks before classes at MCHS began.

"We jumped right into the season," Bulldogs coach Ken Harjes said. "We're not like the other teams that need nine practices to get going. Most of these kids have been playing all summer long, so they are ready."

Newcomer Erik Leonard joins returning seniors Nick Moyer and John Strahan on the varsity squad, but Harjes said to keep an eye out for Taylor Branstetter, who won the junior tournament at YVGC in July.

"Nick definitely has the most experience," Harjes said, "and Strahan has played all four years. But that Branstetter kid is good; he won that junior tournament."

The high school boys 4A golf state championships are at YPGC this year, a welcomed event for Harjes, the team and golf fans in Craig.

Does hosting the season's biggest event add extra pressure on the team?

Harjes doesn't think so.

"We are going to address the season no different than any other," he said. "I don't think the pressure of having state in town will affect these guys. Maybe once regionals rolls around, but not now."

Pressure or no pressure, Harjes is looking forward to the season.

"I'm optimistic," he said. "We had 15 kids come out that all know the game of golf.

"It should be a fun year."

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