Three of the four state qualifying boys golfers are back for more this season, and some newcomers could join them as Fort Collins area golf teams look to regain their luster.
Fort Collins High School’s AJ Ott finished tied for sixth at state as a freshman this past season, telling The Coloradoan at the time he was disappointed because he didn’t play his best.
It’s no small wonder when asked if there were some top 10 state golfers in Fort Collins, Poudre High School coach Phil Coatman listed Ott without hesitation.
All city golfers except Ott were at SouthRidge Golf Course Thursday as the boys high school golf season teed off with a league invitational via a shotgun start. Ott was playing at The Big One tournament at Pinehurst Golf Course, and so didn’t make it to the opening tournament of his sophomore year.
Testing their skills against talented competition in fall’s first high school sports event were returning state qualifiers Austin Preiss, Fossil Ridge senior (tied for 50th at state) and Hunter Paugh, Fort Collins sophomore (80th).
The top city golfer was Eric Hill, of Fossil Ridge. Hill shot a two-under par 69. He was followed by Matt Bell (Rocky, 71), Will Thwaits (Fossil, 73) and Paugh (74).
Coatman, who hosted the league invitational at SouthRidge, said the Impalas have a couple of boys who could qualify for state this season, and he stressed the strength of the Rocky Mountain High School program as well. Rocky Mountain’s Matt Bell battled back to beat Paugh by a stroke at the Fort Collins Junior City Championships a couple of weeks ago.
Poudre’s best finish was Caleb Maxey’s 83.
“I think all four of our schools are really strong,” Coatman said.
If those schools send a couple of boys to state this year, and Fort Collins and Fossil Ridge continue to shine, high school golf in northern Colorado could be back in a big way.
Coach: Phil Coatman, 3rd season
Last season: Team finished 8th out of 16 teams at regionals with no state qualifiers.
Key athletes: Nick Rozga, sr.; Sean Deringer, sr.; Cole Knutson, jr.; Blake McClure, jr.; Michael Sattler, jr.; Traegan Strope, jr.; Caleb Maxey, so.; Dariyn Sterkel, so.
Expectations for the season: Many returning competitive players excited to improve and finish better in matches than last year.
Coach quote: “The most important shot is the next one.”
Coach: Andy Stevens, 2nd year; Jamie Menefee, 1st year
Last season: Strong performances in conference and invitational play, and two state qualifiers.
Key athletes: Eric Hill, Brooks Hoffman, Austin Priess, Ian Murray, Will Thwaites (all seniors).
Expectations for the season: Our expectations are very high this year. We have a lot of talented players who will need to step up and compete in conference and invitational matches.
Coach quote: “We are excited for another great year! We have some young men returning that will bring veteran leadership to the team but are also looking to replace one of the two state competitors from last year. This will provide an opportunity for players to step in and fill an essential role for the team.”
Coach: Kyle Tregoning, 5th year
Last season: Young team fared well in match play and at league invitationals. Lambkins qualified two returning sophomores for state.
Key athletes: Hunter Paugh, sophomore; AJ Ott, sophomore (both returning state qualifiers).
Expectations for the season: Because conference standings determine regional placement, Tregoning said the goal for the Lambkins is to be competitive in league matches.
Coach quote: “We have a lot of young kids who are passionate about the game of golf. They’re out here working hard. Hopefully by the end of the season, we’ll be in good position for regionals.”
Coach: Charlie Ross, 13th year
Last season: Lobos had a rocky regional tournament, and didn’t qualify any golfers for state.
Key athletes: Matt Bell, senior; Cameron Nagel, freshman; Antonio Campana, freshman.
Expectations for this season: For Matt, the for him personally are pretty high. We’re going to have a lot of young kids playing this year. I expect them to learn about hard work and the practice needed to play competitive golf, especially in this conference.
Coach Quote: “I believe overall, we’re going to be a young team hoping to gain some valuable experience with competitive golf this year.”
Coach: Christian Hawkings, 4th year
Last season: Fifth place in Mile High League, sixth in regionals
Key athletes: Senior Mason Munn, sophomore Warren Turner and freshmen Harrison Turner
Expectations: “To win or place second in the Mile High League (behind Alexander Dawson) and win or place second at regionals.”
Coach quote: “Our top three players are serious high school golfers. They have been competing in state-wide junior tournaments during the summer and show great promise to be individual medalists at any match. As a varsity team, they could win every match this year.”
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