Friday, September 21, 2007
Steamboat Springs Playing on a big stage with big stakes, the Steamboat Springs High School golf team shot its lowest score of the year at Thursday's regional tournament in Cortez.
The Sailors qualified for the state tournament as a team for the sixth straight year after finishing in second place. Steamboat fired a team score of 230, just three shots behind regional champion Baslt and one shot ahead of third place Cortez.
"I just couldn't be more excited or proud of these guys," coach Steve Dodson said. "It's fun when a plan comes together. They've been playing and working hard and it finally all came together at regionals."
Senior Michael Weston led Steamboat with the best round of his high school career. Weston shot a 1-over-par 73, good enough for third place individually. Sophomore Kaelen Gunderson shot 78 and senior Billy Taylor shot 79 to round out the team score.
The Sailors' fourth golfer, sophomore Scott Ptach, battled an up-and-down day and shot 84.
Dodson contributed part of the success to the four golfers battling and being mentally tough throughout the year.
The other part, he said, was attacking the Conquistador Golf Course.
The Sailors adjusted their course notes during Wednesday's practice round, then met Wednesday night and formed a game plan. Dodson said he knew that with as many as four or five teams battling for the two spots to state, the regional tournament would come down to one or two shots.
"I told the guys 'each one of you guys are responsible to eliminate two shots throughout your round,'" Dodson said. "I told them to be in the moment, take it one shot at a time and if they hit a bad shot, to maintain their composure and hit the next shot better. I knew we couldn't be throwing away shots."
In the end, Dodson's plan worked to perfection - just ask Taylor.
After the senior started with back-to-back double bogeys, he maintained concentration and strung together back-to-back birdies.
"I could feel the first-couple-hole jitters," Taylor said. "But then I just started playing over again and took it one shot at a time."
Gunderson tripled the second hole en route to a 41 on the front nine, then kept it together and fired a 37 on the backside.
"I was real nervous when we started," Gunderson said. "I knew I had to finish strong, but it was definitely nerves. I just tried to stay calm, take some deep breaths and just relax."
Even Weston - who has consistently shot in the mid- to low-70s the last half of the season - got into some trouble before completing his career-best round.
"I think we were real close to getting over the hump," Weston said. "We were close to getting down there where we needed to be. Coach Dodson told us (Wednesday) if we can concentrate and eliminate a few shots off our averages, we'd be right there : and that's what happened (Thursday)."
The Steamboat Springs golf team will now prepare for the state tournament, Oct. 1 and 2 in Broomfield.
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