The members of the Steamboat Springs High School golf team wrapped up the regular season on a high note by winning a two-day tournament held in Montrose earlier this week.
"This was a big boost for our team," Steamboat coach Steve Dodson said. "It was important to our players to win."
The Steamboat players opened the tournament Wednesday with slight chips on their shoulders. Dodson said the players were still feeling the sting of a close home loss to Montrose on Sept. 8. Montrose won the tournament by three strokes over Steamboat and Grand Junction.
"It was definitely on their minds," Dodson said of the players. "They didn't like (getting beat at home) by Montrose."
The two teams, which have dominated most of the tournaments on the Western Slope this season, have developed a heated rivalry that was starting to spill onto the course.
"There was a lot of trash-talking on the practice greens," Dodson said. "But I pulled my kids to the side and tried to steer them away from it. I want my players to focus on beating the course, not the other team. If they do that, then the rest of this stuff will fall into place."
The Steamboat players responded this week with two great days of golf.
On Wednesday, Kenton Gamache fired a 2-over-par round of 72 to lead the Sailors at the Black Canyon golf course.
Hans-Peter Bacher and Ryan Brees each shot rounds of 75 to give Steamboat the low team score of 222 and the tournament lead.
Paul Berry shot an 80, and Tucker Smalley finished at 83 in the opening round.
Montrose finished the first day in second place, tied with Durango at 225. Fruita Monument was third with a score of 229.
On Thursday, it was Steamboat's Smalley leading the way for the Sailors with a round of 73. Bacher came in at 75, and Brees finished at 77.
The score gave Steamboat 225 stokes for the day and secured the tournament win with a two-day total of 447.
Montrose tied Steamboat on the second day but fell three strokes short of beating the Sailors for the tournament title at 450.
Fruita was the top team in the final round (222) and finished third for the tournament at 451.
"We ended up winning six out of 10 tournaments this season," Dodson said. "This was a very strong season for our team, and all of the golfers should be proud no matter what happens next week at the regional."
The coach will have to make some tough choices before Steamboat opens that tournament Wednesday with a practice round.
The team is allowed to take only four golfers, which means Dodson will have to choose between Gamache and Smalley in the next couple of days. The players are tied for the No. 4 spot on the team.
"It's tough because both golfers stepped up their level of play last week," Dodson said. "This will be the toughest decision I make all season."