May 20, 2013 Updated: May 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm
ENGLEWOOD - In another region, Lewis-Palmer's Jessica Hedgpeth wouldn't have had the chance to compete in the 4A girls' state golf tournament at Broken Tee Golf Course. So don't blame the senior if she felt a little out of place.
"I didn't know if I'd hit well enough to belong here," said Hedgpeth, headed way north this fall to the University of Saskatchewan to study animal science. "People were talking about how at some regionals, the cut was 96. I shot over that at mine (102) but still qualified. It was nice to be here."
Hedgpeth took advantage of her opportunity by shooting a career-best 92 Monday in opening-round action. It was still 18 shots off the day's best score, but standing outside the scoring area, she literally and figuratively soaked up the sun after taking in a few downpours during the round.
"It's a good way to finish my career here," Hedgpeth said. "It's a little weird that it showed up at the end of the season, but it's the best place to show it off. I came here, I competed and I feel pretty good right now."
As does the team from Cheyenne Mountain, which shot a 248 and holds a five-shot lead over Valor Christian heading into Tuesday's final round. The Indians, led by a 6-over-par 78 from sophomore Kylee Sullivan, have not won a girls' team title since the Colorado High School Activities Association began sanctioning the sport in 1990.
At first, Cheyenne Mountain headed into the clubhouse staring at a four-shot deficit. A short time later, however, Valor Christian senior Laura Cohan was disqualified for submitting an inaccurate score. She turned in an 86 but should have recorded an 87; she didn't count a penalty stroke on No. 18 but signed her scorecard and left the scoring area before realizing the mistake.
"My coach thought I had a higher score, so we went back through the round," a tearful Cohan said. "The girl keeping my score and I agreed on my score, but then I realized I forgot to count a penalty stroke. It was the right thing to do."
Robin Jervey, the executive director of the Colorado Women's Golf Association helping to oversee the tournament, made the ruling after hearing the explanation.
"Once they leave the scoring area, they're held accountable to whatever they had on their card at that point," Jervey said. "Unfortunately, it didn't come to light until after she left the scoring area, and when you sign for a card with a score lower than what you actually had, it's a disqualification."
Valor Christian's Tori Glenn shot a 74 to lead all golfers Monday. Sullivan is fifth overall, four shots back. Indians teammate Katherine Kemp is 10th after carding an 83, while sophomore Samantha Weber shot an 87.
"It's good to be in the lead, because they still have to catch us," longtime Cheyenne Mountain coach Bill Paulson said. "Sometimes, you'd rather be behind than be the target, but we'll take it. It was very admirable that she (Cohan) did what she did. You've got to make sure everything on that card is right before you sign it. You just have to pick yourself up the next day."
Final-round play begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. For Hedgpeth, it'll be her final round in high school before visiting her college of choice for the first time later this summer. Yeah, it's that far away.
"It's kind of on a wing and a prayer," Hedgpeth said. "I feel like it's the place where I should be."