The first big golf tournament under the new league format is behind us and it was, well, different.
Cheyenne Mountain’s Wilson Belk won Tuesday's Terror Invitational in a scorecard tiebreaker over Pueblo Centennial’s Jacob Allenback with a 68 at Patty Jewett, while Palmer’s Colin Prater won the 5A Metro portion of the event with a 69.
While all 24 schools comprising the now-disbanded Colorado Springs Metro League used to play each of the league meets together – even after 5A and 4A started splitting results – this one counted in the standings for only the six teams in the new 5A Metro, and the field included only 12 teams.
“It’s totally different,” said Prater, who opened a six-shot lead on Liberty’s Tyler Nolan in the 5A Metro individual standings. “It was weird today. Usually a Metro tournament takes 5½ or 6 hours. Today we played in 4 hours, 10 minutes.”
The 4A Metro also held its first meet since half of its teams left for the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference. Coronado freshman Isaac Petersilie took top individual honors with a 2-under-par 70 at the Woodland Park Panther Invitational at Shining Mountain Golf Course. Coronado -- playing three freshmen -- also won the team title, with Cheyenne Mountain's junior varsity placing second and Vista Ridge in third.
Scheduling has grown more difficult under the new configuration. In the past, five league tournaments were assured to draw 24 local teams and often a few more. This made it simpler for golf courses to justify shutting down for a morning or afternoon as well, as each team would pay a fee to offset the cost to the courses.
If Tuesday was a forecast of things to come, the courses will at times recoup just half the money to shut down for the same amount of time. If so, they may well raise fees or turn away high school tournaments.
“It has been an absolute nightmare,” Palmer coach Jason Kohl said.
While the coaches and administrators are begrudgingly feeling their way through the changes, players like Prater shouldn’t see much a difference aside from pace of play. The top players will still be grouped together, and all tournaments figure to include enough teams to ensure that the top groups will include four strong players.
“I care to some extent, but you still go out and play golf and it’s you against the course,” said Prater, who is gunning for his third straight 5A Metro crown. “That’s what it is. And you play well to try to help your team get a win. So it’s still the exact same game and that doesn’t change at all.”
Cheyenne Mountain won the overall team title at 217, edging Pueblo Centennial by seven strokes. For both teams, this was a nonleague event. Pine Creek took the 5A Metro portion at 233, with Palmer (240) and Liberty (253) rounding out the top three.
The Indians were led by Belk, a sophomore, who won for the first time in his high school career. He was a major part of a stellar freshman class at Cheyenne Mountain last year, finishing third in the 4A Metro by 11 strokes and helping the team to a runaway league title.
Belk started Tuesday’s round with a double bogey, but rebounded with eight birdies – including four in a stretch of five holes.
His score indicated he’s in midseason form. And, really, he is.
“During the summer, when the weather’s nice it’s every day,” Belk said. “But it’s fun to get out here and play as a team.”