Coronado freshmen Austin Burgess, Wes Moran and Isaac Petersilie had not yet stepped foot in a high school classroom when they first represented the Cougars in a varsity golf meet.
They won the event by four strokes.
As the area golf season begins its first year with 4A schools split into separate leagues – a split that most assumed would divide the talent in country club sports – this group that dominated while at Holmes Middle School may just balance the power in the region now and for the next four years.
“They play together all the time,” said coach Blake Miller, who is also excited about three improved juniors who will be in the mix for the four varsity spots. “They push each other. They have their own games within the game. As a coach, I have to kick them off the course at night so I can eat dinner and see my own family. But they just want to stay. It’s cool to see that kind of dedication to the sport.”
Petersilie is the group’s headliner as the winner of the Pikes Peak Junior Golf season in the 15-and-under category this summer. Petersilie shot 70 at Shining Mountain Golf Course to win his first high school event.
“I was nervous just starting out the season, so it was pretty cool,” Petersilie said. “It definitely gave me a lot of confidence going forward.”
Petersilie has played the game seriously since sixth grade, which, in his case, means just three years. To already be at his level speaks to the natural talent he has for the game.
For Moran, the game also came easy, in part because the left-hander learned to play by hitting his grandfather’s right-handed driver backward.
The three have been close friends since elementary school and compete as intensely in pingpong as they do in golf.
And though they may well be shy newcomers in the halls when school opens this week, they are tough to intimidate on the course.
“I’d love to play with Wilson (Belk) and Colin (Prater),” Petersilie said of the front-runners in the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference (Cheyenne Mountain’s Belk) and 5A Metro (Palmer’s Prater). “That would be fun. I know Colin from the Pikes Peak Amateur, and Wilson, I just know his name.”
If Coronado emerges as the 4A Metro’s equivalent of Cheyenne Mountain – which won the 16-team league title last season by 112 strokes – there’s a good chance it would run away with the league title.
However, that’s of little interest to this team.
“The goal they talk about is qualifying for state,” Miller said. “It’s not a league championship. I think we have a shot, but it’s a one-day tournament.
“It’s going to be how we focus the kids and get them ready. That’s my job as the coach – it’s not a swing coach, it’s keeping them focused through the season.”
The state-qualifying process does not change from last year. The regional tournament includes all teams from southern Colorado and league affiliation will mean nothing at that point.
Petersilie believes the team is talented enough to make a run to state if it stays “within our game and not try to do something we can’t.”
Of course, the pressure will be on the other guys. This team has time on its side.
“If we all play pretty good, we should qualify,” Moran said. “But we have four years.”