Widefield’s Nate Starke had never broken 80, never won a tournament and had perhaps never felt more anxious than he did as scores were trickling in at the Cherokee Ridge Golf Course clubhouse Thursday.
Starke’s pacing finally ended when he saw his 73 would hold up as the top score among the 48 players at the Mitchell Marauder Invitational, an event that counts toward the 4A Metro standings.
“(Coronado’s) Kyle (Kleckner) came up and told me I would probably win,” Starke said. “That’s when I realized.
“My heart was pumping too fast.”
The splitting of local leagues has caused scheduling headaches and controversy, but here was the positive, if unintended consequence — a player who might never have been in contention against the top players from Air Academy or Cheyenne Mountain earned the right to leave the course with a first-place medal around his neck.
“It felt good,” Starke said.
Stark was eyeing his first round in the 70s when he was at 39 at the turn. He then shot 34 — with birdies on the two par 5s, Nos. 2 and 9 — when he replayed what is essentially a nine-hole course. He credited solid chipping and just one of those days that golfers wish they could bottle up and save.
The same feeling wasn’t shared by league front-runner Isaac Petersile of Coronado, but the freshman did what he needed to do to maintain his large lead by shooting 80 and finishing in a three-way tie for sixth place. Also in that tie was Mesa Ridge’s Braden Bentley, who missed a chance to cut into Petersilie’s seven-stroke lead after three events.
Only one tournament remains in the 4A Metro, and it’s the event Coronado is hosting.
“That should be a good confidence booster,” Petersilie said. “I should be able to just go out and relax.”
Petersilie said he didn’t even know until last week that a league champion would be crowned, so it’s not exactly a top goal. It’s easy to understand the confusion, as the league itself has yet to decide on a format. Last year, when the now eight-team 4A Metro was twice as large and sharing events with the six-team 5A Metro, five league meets were played and the individual leaders were determined by golfers’ top four scores in those five meets. With only four events this year, 4A Metro coaches haven’t decided if the league will be determined by all four events, or by the top three.
Either way, Petersilie’s lead figures to be safe; as does Coronado’s in the team standings. The Cougars won the title Thursday by two shots over Liberty and beat the 4A Metro runner-up — Widefield — by eight shots to increase its lead to 55 shots over the Gladiators.
All four Coronado golfers placed in the top 10.
Liberty’s Tyler Nolan took second individually at 75, followed by Rampart’s Ben Tarasiewicz at 76.
4A METRO LEADERS
(Through three of four events)
Isaac Petersilie, Coronado 70-77-80—227
Braden Bentley, Mesa Ridge 70-77-80—234
Kyle Kleckner, Coronado 78-85-79—242
Nate Starke, Widefield 87-84-73—244
Wes Moran, Coronado 78-88-82—248
Woodland Park 836
Mesa Ridge 839