The Moffat County High School boys varsity golf team is seeking to send as many golfers to state this season as it can, which would break the team’s streak of having no state qualifiers for more than a decade. The team is, back row from left, Ethan O’Mailia, Parker King, Trey Jourgensen, Colby Haddan, Mark Dockstader, Zach Ahlmer and Colter Tegtman. In the front row, from left, is Taft Cleverly, Wes Whiffen, Eli Voyich, Brady Martinez and Kyler Willbanks.

Photo by Ben Bulkeley

The Moffat County High School boys varsity golf team is seeking to send as many golfers to state this season as it can, which would break the team’s streak of having no state qualifiers for more than a decade. The team is, back row from left, Ethan O’Mailia, Parker King, Trey Jourgensen, Colby Haddan, Mark Dockstader, Zach Ahlmer and Colter Tegtman. In the front row, from left, is Taft Cleverly, Wes Whiffen, Eli Voyich, Brady Martinez and Kyler Willbanks.

The road back

MCHS golf team looking to end streak of missing state

MCHS boys varsity golf remaining schedule:

Time Date Place Location

9 a.m. Sept. 1 Away Devil’s Thumb in Delta

9 a.m. Sept. 2 Away Cobble Creek in Montrose

9 a.m. Sept. 8 Away Haymaker in Steamboat Springs

9 a.m. Sept. 9 Home Yampa Valley in Craig

8 a.m. Sept. 13 Away Adobe Creek in Fruita

8 a.m. Sept. 16 Away Lakota Canyon in New Castle

8 a.m. Sept. 21 Away Regionals at Cobble Creek in Montrose

TBA Oct. 4 Away State Finals (TBA)

TBA Oct. 5 Away State Finals (TBA)

MCHS boys varsity golf team at a glance:

Returning players:

Mark Dockstader*

Parker King

Trey Jourgensen

Colby Haddan

Ethan O’Mailia

*2009 All-conference second-team selection

Coaches:

Ken Harjes — 30th year

Casey Kilpatrick — 1st year

By the numbers:

70: Playing in a tournament during the summer in Grand Junction, senior Mark Dockstader shot a 70, which was a career best. His previous best was 77.

One: As in first, where junior Parker King finished the 2010 Ace High School Golf Tournament.

Three of four: The team returns three of four golfers — Dockstader, King and Jourgensen — who played at the 2009 regional tournament in Steamboat Springs. Taylor Branstetter, the fourth member, graduated from Hayden High School in May.

In 2009, a streak — and an unfortunate one at that — was almost broken.

Mark Dockstader narrowly missed becoming the first Moffat County High School boys golfer to qualify for a state meet since 1998.

He shot 83, but wound up in a one-hole playoff for second alternate.

All summer, he spent his mornings and weekends making sure that when the scores roll in, he’s on the right end of a trip to state.

“It’s all about making it to state,” the senior said. “We have the guys to compete and win some tournaments. I think we can play with the best, and keep getting better for regionals.

“That’s what we need to do to get to state.”

Note that he used, we.

This fall, Dockstader is merely the No. 1 golfer out of a stable of other solid MCHS players.

Rivaled only by Dockstader, junior Parker King has become a common fixture on the greens.

During the summer, King finished first in the Ace High School Golf Tournament.

“With Parker, he’s played in a lot of tournaments over the summer,” MCHS head coach Ken Harjes said. “His golf swing has always been really good, but (playing over the summer) will help him with his course management. He knows now that if he has a bad shot, he can make it up.”

Harjes, who is entering his 30th year at the helm of the team, will be joined by newcomer Casey Kilpatrick, who takes over as assistant coach, replacing Joe Padon.

Returning to boost the squad is Trey Jourgensen, who is coming off a summer knee surgery, but managed to shoot an 83 in the team’s first tournament.

Rounding out the team are juniors Colby Haddan and Ethan O’Mailia. Although neither played at the varsity level for long in 2009, both have Harjes excited for the future.

“If I had to pick out our most improved golfer, it would probably be Ethan,” he said. “I know he was out (at Yampa Valley) during the summer, and it shows.”

Unfortunately for MCHS, the road to state has become even more cluttered.

Several teams have jumped up a league or dropped down, including former 5A powerhouse Durango High School.

That’s on top of class mainstays like Montrose, Montezuma-Cortez Steamboat Springs, Rifle, Palisade, Glenwood Springs and Rifle.

“There will be seven or eight teams who will be tough to beat,” Harjes said. “Montrose will be tough again, Glenwood will be up there and Palisade has a couple of good players.”

This year, however, MCHS has two aces who can line up against anyone, Harjes said.

“You can see how much Mark and Parker have improved,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how far they can go, and I definitely feel like we have improved.”

But, has the team improved enough to qualify for a state berth?

“I think our top-two matches up with anyone else’s,” Harjes said. “So, I don’t really see why we can’t.”

Last year, the team had seniors Taylor Branstetter, Ty DeGuelle and Caleb McKey to lead them.

Look for Dockstader to fill that gap this season. It’s a task he relishes, he said.

“I try to lead by example,” he said. “I want to get better, and I want them to improve, too. Even the guys who are just out here for fun, I want them to get better, regardless.”

Winning tournaments and making it to state is the only goal that matter for the golf team this season, he said.

“With me and Parker, we should be in the 70s at every tournament,” Dockstadder said. “Colby and Trey can be in the 80s almost every tournament.

“This is one of the better teams we have had in a while.”

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