Moffat County golfers to shoot at state with 2 qualifying at regionals
For the Craig Press
The season isn’t done yet for a pair of Moffat County High School golfers.
MCHS will send two members of its boys golf team to the final round of competition this season, both of whom earned slots at the 3A CHSAA State Championships after Tuesday’s 3A Region 4 Tournament.
On the links of Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez, the Bulldogs had a team total of 255 and ranked fifth of 13 schools in attendance, with sophomore Aron Jennings and senior Dave Andujo each making the cut for state.
Jennings placed ninth in the field of 54, a finish that was a four-way tie among golfers who also shot an 80.
Starting from Conquistador’s 10th hole, Jennings put together a birdie on the Par 5 and stayed steady from there, with a plus-2 overall on the back nine.
“I think it was pretty steady, there some holes I could have shot lower, but I think I had a pretty solid round,” Jennings said.
The front half went a little rockier, with bogeys on the next three holes.
“There were some tee shots I could have hit better, and I could have put myself in a better spot,” Jennings said.
As a player who’s broken 80 more than once this fall, Jennings admitted the 42 on the front was a little frustrating after the 38 that started the day.
“A lot of the greens had peninsulas, probably 10 or 12 of them, that made it a bit tougher. There’s multiple levels to the green, and it was hard to get it up on the level you wanted,” he said. “There were a lot of breaks that you couldn’t really see.”
MoCo coach Tim Adams said Jennings showed great composure in his first time at regionals.
“The moment wasn’t too big for him. He stayed within himself,” Adams said. “He executed the shots he needed to and didn’t get too high or too low.”
After going to state two consecutive years, Andujo was determined to make it a trifecta, and though he’s struggled with some elements of his game this season, he completed the regional event tying for 16th with an 83.
The day didn’t start badly but also could have been better, as his stretch on the back nine ended with a triple bogey on Hole 18 — which Adams referred to as his “blow-up hole” — to notch 44 for the opening half.
Unlike Jennings, Andujo found more of a groove on the front nine, shooting no higher than a 6, as well as keeping his score completely even for the final four holes.
“Since he’s a senior, I spent a lot of my day with him, and he turned it around,” Adams said. “Halfway through the round I was thinking, ‘This isn’t working too good,’ but he finished strong. On every one of those last few holes, he had a birdie putt that just burned the hole, really close.”
Andujo said he was trying not pressure himself too much to repeat the 80 he attained at last season’s regional round, a score he also achieved on both days of the 2020 state tourney.
“I didn’t have a whole lot going through my mind, just trying not to get too upset,” he said.
The Aspen team held on to its individual and team regional titles as the Skiers were again led by Nic Pevny to the win, with the senior shooting a 69.
Both Aspen and the hosting Montezuma-Cortez Panthers will take full teams to state as the top groups from Region 4. A playoff round Tuesday also determined which of multiple tying golfers would be the final state qualifiers — each region sending 21 total to state — and which would be in alternate status.
With athletes who were right on the cusp of state getting scores in the mid-80s, Adams’ hopes of taking three players to the next level weren’t to be.
MCHS junior Lance Brackett shot a 92 to place 31st.
Like Jennings and Andujo, Brackett has proven this season that he can shoot under a 90, though Conquistador proved challenging for the Bulldog in his first year of high school golf, with a 45 on the back and 47 on the front.
“Lance played really well, but he was very disappointed that he didn’t make it,” Adams said. “We’ll be working for him to make it for next year. He’s been fairly consistent, and I told him it’s definitely in the realm of possible for him to make it next year if he keeps working at it. It would have been fun for all three of them to go to state, but it just didn’t work out.”
The final Bulldog shooting at regionals was freshman Jayden Evenson, who took 53rd at 123 for the day.
Adams noted that he was pleased how Evenson coped mentally with being one of the younger players in the event, and though he struggled, he avoided shooting a 10 on all but one hole.
“He got off to a pretty rough start, put a lot of pressure on himself,” Adams said. “His parents were able to come down and watch him, I think that really calmed him down. I was really pleased with all of them.”
Adams added that the layout of Conquistador led to a good event for players of all experience levels.
“It’s really a fair course. There’s a lot of trees, but it’s still pretty wide out there,” he said. “I felt like it was a fair test, but you definitely had to be accurate off the tee. Great place to have a regional for sure. We enjoyed it.”
Off to state
Now that they’re moving on to the final tier of Colorado high school golf, Jennings and Andujo have ample time to prepare.
The two-day 3A state event tees off Oct. 4 and 5 at Spring Valley Golf Club in Elizabeth.
With nearly two weeks to tweak their games, the pair will be working harder than ever, and both the state qualifiers will be putting emphasis on improving their chipping. Each are feeling confident in their putts and drives, though the tricky element of getting onto the green from a shorter distance is where they both want to be prepared.
“My short game has felt pretty rough lately,” Andujo said. “I think I’ve had a lack of practice with that and using my wedges.”
Jennings said he will be relying on his senior teammate for some guidance on keeping composure at state.
“I’ll definitely be talking Dave a lot about that, we’ll be working a lot together,” he said.
Adams said the main focus won’t be much different than the advice he gives any other day of practice.
“Just play smart golf, hit in the middle of the fairway, middle of the green,” he said.
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