Moffat County golfers see scoring shake-up; Bulldog cross country warms up for season start
As Moffat County High School sports get fully underway in the condensed fall season, athletes are already looking to make the most of the weeks ahead.
Coming out swinging
After three tournaments to date, the MCHS boys golf team has yet to see the same rankings each time.
Thursday saw the Bulldogs hit the links at Battlement Mesa Golf Club for Grand Junction High School’s tourney, ending the day right in the middle of the pack at sixth place among 11 teams with a total score of 277.
MCHS junior Dave Andujo tied for 13th place in the field of 55 players, scoring a 90 for the match, while in his first event with the squad, freshman Aron Jennings came in second among the Bulldogs, finishing with a 93.
Coach Tim Adams said a scoring error originally showed Jennings with the team’s best for the day at 89, though they later examined his scorecard more closely.
Even so, Adams was more than pleased with the first-timer’s performance.
While Jennings’ day consisted of breaking even or notching a bogie on most holes, Andujo birdied holes 5 and 17, both of which are Par 5’s. However, the close of the front nine saw him take a triple on Hole 9.
Andujo was also paired with Aspen’s Nic Pevny, the overall champion for the event as the only player to break par, shooting 69.
MCHS senior Tanner Etzler — who attended the state championships along with Andujo in 2019 — rounded out the top three for the Dogs at 94, a day with pars and bogies alike, his only real trouble coming with an 8 on Hole 14.
With five MoCo athletes tackling Battlement Mesa, junior Ryan Peck shot 100 and Tyler Burkett 102.
Etzler led the team total in Delta Aug. 6 with an 86, edging out Andujo’s 87, while Andujo set his standard for the season so far with a 78 at Fruita Monument’s Wildcat Invitational on Aug. 10.
Originally, golfers had planned to play Tuesday in Basalt, though the Longhorn tournament was limited in space due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Though the gap in competition went longer than he expected, Adams said it didn’t hurt athletes Thursday even amid warm, windy weather and the scent of nearby wildfires.
“It was definitely pretty smoky in the air, but the guys handled everything really well,” he said.
With no concrete rankings within the team, Adams said the motivation among players to prove themselves is great, as is the considerably larger team size, with 14 on the roster — nearly triple the amount of kids in 2019 — working out all their weak spots during qualifying rounds in hopes of hitting the road.
“The great thing about this year is there’s a lot of competition,” he said. “There’s not a lot of JV tournaments, so you really have to play your way onto varsity. That’s been really nice. A lot more kids out, a lot more interest.”
As the schedule progresses, Moffat County will hit Eagle Ranch Monday to kick off next week, followed the next day by the Rifle Invite.
Adams added that he is working on hosting a junior varsity event Sept. 2 at Yampa Valley Golf Course.
“We’re not sure how many teams we’ll have, but we’re getting that figured out,” he said.
On the run
It’s been a good long while since Moffat County runners have been able to take part in official competition, and they’re looking to make up for lost time.
MCHS cross country will get moving Friday afternoon in Grand Junction for Central’s Warrior Matchett Park event.
The two-day meet is limited to 50 girls and 50 boys per section, which amounts to multiple waves Friday and Saturday. Both Bulldog groups will run in the Friday races.
As if the wait since last fall weren’t enough, the Bulldogs who are fleet of foot also had to sustain the loss of the track and field season in March due to COVID-19 concerns.
“It was the day before a track meet when we found out that happened,” head coach Todd Trapp said.
For Trapp, the upside of all the changes during 2020 is that athletes’ desire to lace up their shoes, get moving and excel has perhaps never been greater.
“They’ve been out of it for a while, but I could tell during practice (Thursday) morning just how excited they were to compete again,” he said.
While MCHS cross country traditionally begins the schedule with the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede in Colorado Springs — the annual site of the state championships — Trapp expects the shift will be a positive one for returning and new runners.
Following the Warrior match is next week’s event hosted by Fruita Monument at Connected Lakes, while the Stampede will now take place the weekend of Sept. 11 and 12.
“It’s probably a better order for us,” Trapp said. “We can get some more training in for kids and prepare them a little bit more.”
With a program that’s a perennial contender in the regional rankings and at state, this year is hardly any different.
MoCo girls will see the majority of their top runners return, including seniors Kelsey McDiffett and Alayna Behrman and juniors Halle Hamilton and Emma Jones, to name a few, though senior Emaleigh Papierski will be sitting out the fall season with a summertime injury.
For boys, Hayden brothers Wyatt and Noah Mortenson have since relocated, though Tigers Keaton Knez and Kale Johnson will remain strong competitors this fall running for Moffat County, as will Bulldogs Logan Hafey and Ian Trevenen, among others seeking to make their mark.
Besides the usual class of freshmen, with football, volleyball and more seasons postponed until later in the school year, cross country has picked up some fresh athletes, and the mindset is “the more the merrier” for those willing to work.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids ready to go, ready to compete,” Trapp said. “We’re excited to find out where we’re at.”
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