Who needs a green?
Gunnison girls tee off season with tourney win, desite having to practice inside
Times Staff Writer
Originally published 2013-03-14
Don’t call it beginner’s luck.
After winning their first tournament of the season on March 4 in Grand Junction — the first team victory for the Gunnison High (GHS) girls golf program in recent years — the Cowboys are out to prove that this is the season they leave their mark on the Class 4A Western region.
“It’s kind of amazing how much talent we have on our team this year,” said senior Jennifer Ehmsen, a two time state qualifier. “We won the first (tournament), so there’s a possibility that if we all play our top game we can take the regional.”
Ehmsen led GHS in Grand Junction, taking first place among individuals by shooting a 69 on the par 59 Chipeta course. Having hit only once outdoors prior to the tournament, such success this early in the season came as a surprise.
“It’s kind of funny, because at the beginning of the year I feel like you haven’t put in enough time to rack up bad habits,” said Ehmsen. “But I definitely didn’t expect to win.”
It’s Ehmsen’s supporting cast that has fourth year GHS coach Denise Mayfield pumped up about the opportunity that awaits her team this season. After finishing seventh as a team last year at the regional tournament, the Cowboys return with every member from that squad and have made key additions.
Junior Monica Elam followed Ehmsen’s lead at Chipeta, shooting a 74 to finish second overall. According to Elam, winning the first tournament of the season as a team made a big statement about what’s to come.
“I think it sets a standard,” she said. “After getting one first place finish at a tournament, we know that we can do it again.”
Senior Kaitlin Stewart rounded out the team total by shooting an 89. Stewart returns for her fourth season with the team after finishing as the Cowboys’ second highest placer at regionals as a junior.
Brennan O’Hagan and Dana Kadlec complete the line-up of four seniors on this year’s roster. Mayfield expects the addition of Crested Butte Community School junior Shannon Costello to spice up the intersquad competition for the top four spots on the roster.
“It’s going to be a battle to get on the regional team, because they’re all very capable,” said Mayfield. “Four people make the regional team and there’s at least six that could easily make it.”
Denise Alarcon returns to the team for her junior season after making huge leaps at the junior varsity level in 2012. Hayley Weak, Carmen Martinez and Zoe Marshall make up the sophomore class of this year’s team, while Lucille Griffith is the lone freshman.
It won’t be an easy task to take the top spot on the podium at the 4A Western Regional Tournament. Rifle, the defending champions, return with their top golfer from a season ago, while Montrose and Aspen are perennial contenders for the title.
Should the Cowboys come out on top, they would punch their ticket to the 4A State Championships as a team for the first time in program history. For now, Mayfield has her sights set on the month of April, when Dos Rios is expected to open for the season.
“It’s tough to improve your golf game when you’re stuck inside every day for practice,” she said. “But we’ll do what we can for now and just hope that we keep playing like we did last week.”
The Cowboys are slated to return to the links today, March 14, at Black Canyon in Montrose. They will play their lone home tournament of the year on Friday, May 3, at Dos Rios.
(Matt Smith can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)