Golf team eyes state berth

Luke Graham

Coach Ken Harjes usually has a good idea who his top golfers will be for the year soon after tryouts.

But after qualifying the last two days, the competition for the top five spots is as tight as ever.

“(Golfing spots) three through 10 are really close,” Harjes said. “(Spots) one and two don’t have a lock on it either.”

The top qualifier for the Bulldogs was senior Zach Haddan who shot an 80, 75 for a 155. Junior Kaleb McKey finished second with an 86, 79 for a 165.

After those two, Harjes said most of the next scores were all within a couple of strokes of each other.

“I think it’s going to be terrific,” he said. “It’s going to be real competitive.”

Harjes was so unsure of who he was going to take to today’s tournament, he said he may not take Haddan or McKey, and use the tournament as a second qualifier.

Haddan, a senior, played varsity all of last year but missed the cut for regionals by only a couple of strokes. He said he was pleased with his play over the two-day qualifier.

“Yesterday I didn’t play well on the front nine, but since then I really put it together,” he said.

After working on his game all summer, Haddan said he has some lofty expectations.

“As a team I want to qualify for state,” he said. “Qualifying for state would be huge. The biggest accomplishment for me in high school sports.”

For McKey, a change in equipment made higher scores than he would have liked.

“I’m right in the middle of switching drivers,” he said. ” I struggled off the tee the first day and my score reflected that.”

McKey traveled to tournaments around the state this summer to prepare him for his junior year. These tournaments helped him gauge the field this year.

“That’s one of the reasons I went,” he said. “I wanted to get a feel of what the competition would be like this year.”

Despite the strong showing from his top two golfers, Harjes said to compete in the Western Slope this year, the group will have to be more consistent.

“This is good, but we can’t be shooting in the 80s in this league and be competitive,” he said. “We’re going to struggle to find that third score, but it’s a good group. They all work hard at it.”

Harjes said the teams to watch in the region are Glenwood, Rifle, Montrose, Delta, Durango and Steamboat Springs.

He said lots of other teams have golfers who can shoot really low — something the Bulldogs lack at this time.

“We don’t have a kid who goes real low all the time,” Harjes said. “But Zach and Kaleb both could.”

With the regional tournament at home this year, a state berth is within the Bulldogs’ grasp.

“It’s definitely a big advantage,” McKey said. “I’ve played almost every shot from every angle at this course.”

Harjes believes in the squad.

“Can we win the region? Yeah,” he said. “I think we have a chance. I think we can be competitive.”

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