The Moffat County High School girls varsity golf team is, from left, Callie Papoulas, Nike Cleverly, Jessica Matthews, coach Ann Marie Roberts, Samantha Fox and Caitlin Harjes. The Bulldogs won the 4A regional title last season on their home course at Yampa Valley Golf Course and will look to win the school’s second title this season.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

The Moffat County High School girls varsity golf team is, from left, Callie Papoulas, Nike Cleverly, Jessica Matthews, coach Ann Marie Roberts, Samantha Fox and Caitlin Harjes. The Bulldogs won the 4A regional title last season on their home course at Yampa Valley Golf Course and will look to win the school’s second title this season.

MCHS girls golf team looks to win 2nd straight regional championship

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Callie Papoulas, a Moffat County High School senior, practices accuracy March 8 in the East Elementary School gymnasium. Along with fellow senior Nike Cleverly, Papoulas will try to lead the MCHS girls varsity golf team to a second consecutive 4A state championship meet.

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Ann Marie Roberts

BULLDOGS AT A GLANCE:

Coach: Ann Marie Roberts

Returning MCHS girl varsity golfers:

(Name — year)

Nike Cleverly — senior

Callie Papoulas — senior

Samantha Fox — junior

Newcomers:

• Jessica Matthews, a senior, is entering her first year as a high school golfer in her last year of high school.

• Caitlin Harjes, a freshman, is the daughter of MCHS boys varsity golf coach Ken Harjes.

SCHEDULE:

Moffat County High School girls varsity golf remaining schedule:

Date Place Location

March 29 Away Lincoln Park (Palisade)

April 11 Away The Hill (Glenwood Spr.)

April 18 Away Battlement Mesa

April 26 Away Tiara Rado (Central)

April 29 Home Yampa Valley

May 3 Away Cobble Creek (Montrose)

May 4 Away Dos Rio (Gunnison)

May 9 Away Regionals at Battlement

May 10 Away Regionals at Battlement

May 23 Away State Championships

May 24 Away State Championships

When the Moffat County High School girls varsity golf team was last seen in May 2010 on their home Yampa Valley Golf Course, they were celebrating and hugging on a sunny day.

Heather Nicholson, an MCHS senior at the time, had just drained a putt on the first hole to win the 4A regional title.

Three other MCHS golfers put up some of their best scores to follow Nicholson to the state championships as 4A regional team champions.

Less than a year later, MCHS seniors Nike Cleverly and Callie Papoulas return to try and lead the 2011 team to a repeat regional title.

“It is really exciting this year because we want to see if we can repeat and if we can improve,” Cleverly said. “Last year, we motivated each other and as a senior now, I hope Callie and I do that again.”

Papoulas said last year’s success should be beneficial to this year’s team.

“We had an excellent season last year and I hope we can build on that,” she said. “Heather was a great leader last year, but I am excited to lead this year.”

Ann Marie Roberts, who is entering her seventh year as the Bulldogs head coach, said this year’s team has the makings to earn MCHS its second girls golf regional title.

“I think we have better experience this year than previous years,” she said. “We have a good chance of repeating and it makes this season really exciting.”

Cleverly and Papoulas will be joined by returning junior golfer Samantha Fox as well as newcomers in senior Jessica Matthews and freshman Caitlin Harjes.

With the long Colorado winters, Roberts said her team’s first time outside on a golf course this season was their first meet in Palisade on March 10.

Still, the team practiced what they could in the gymnasium at East Elementary School.

“I really had the girls work on fundamentals in the first couple weeks of practice,” Roberts said. “I think they got to hit enough that I could detect what they were capable of doing.

“We worked on a lot of chipping and a lot of putting.”

For her two returning seniors, Roberts said their poise on the course would lead the team.

“Callie played the Palisade course even before the season started and she did really good,” she said. “She is very confident in her game and Nike is just even keel so when she goes out there she is strong.”

Cleverly said she worked hard on her short game in the offseason.

“I was pretty consistent in my long game and I wanted to add a better short game,” she said. “You can lose if your short game isn’t on.”

Since last season, Roberts said Fox has earned the title of most improved golfer.

“I know Samantha worked all summer and she is probably 1,000 times better,” she said. “Accuracy is a big thing and she definitely improved immensely.”

As for the first-year golfers, Roberts said Matthews and Harjes both show promise.

“I have never seen Jessica golf before, but watching her early in the season, I know she will be good,” she said. “Harjes wants to play and she is confident and willing to put the time in to be good.”

With the talent she has this season, Roberts said her main focus in practice has been course management.

“By now, I think the golfers know their golf swing pretty well,” she said. “I am trying to get them to think (on the course) and look for the best shot.”

Early in the season, Roberts said she has had her players team up to communicate and talk about the best shot available.

Roberts said the mental aspect of golf is the most important.

“Golf is probably 90 percent mental and 10 percent skill,” she said. “Nothing is ever the same on the course from the terrain to the weather to the opponent, and they have to know how to play in different settings.”

Roberts said four tournaments will be good indicators of what her team can do come the May 9 and 10 regional tournament in Battlement Mesa.

The April 11 meet in Glenwood Springs, the April 18 meet in Battlement Mesa, the May 3 meet in Montrose and the May 4 meet in Gunnison will only include 4A schools.

“There will be a lot of medals and a lot of competition that the girls will see in certain tournaments this year that will be a lot like the competition at regionals,” Roberts said. “These are the four dates that really stand out on our schedule.”

The Bulldogs will only host one tournament this season — April 29 at Yampa Valley Golf Course.

Roberts said she likes to have the home meet toward the end of the season to allow her players to put up good scores.

“The girls always seem to perform well on their home course,” she said. “It will get them pumped up and ready for the regional tournament just in time.”

With the season just beginning, Roberts said she sees a lot of potential in the chemistry between her players.

“It seems that everyone is always ready to come to practice and it makes the time go by very quickly,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like work because we have a lot of fun.”

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