“It’s such a big relief after last year,” said Wilson Belk, whose 2-under-par 69 placed him second Tuesday at the Country Club of Colorado behind only the 65 carded by Pueblo South’s Jimmy Mackloski.
Cole Anderson added a 71 and Dan Belk came in at 75 as Cheyenne Mountain posted a 215 to beat Pueblo South by two strokes. Alex Freimuth also shot 78 and would have qualified individually had he not been part of the four-member team that will go to the Oct. 1-2 state tournament at Cobble Creek Golf Course in Montrose.
Pueblo South also qualifies as a team, as the top two finishers take all four members.
Last year — despite winning league by 112 strokes — the Indians placed third in the regional and could not compete for a state title.
Avoiding that fate was the goal for this season, even if wasn’t something that was ever mentioned.
“I didn’t have to say anything,” said coach Bill Paulson, whose team wrapped up a 115-stroke league title as Tuesday’s event doubled as a league tournament to make up for last week’s rainout at the same course. “They were all there, except Jack Stimple (who is now playing at Creighton). We tried to be low key and not put any more pressure than was already internally there with them.”
Pressure mounted after a sluggish start, coupled with a blazing first six holes that saw Mackloski drop to 5 under.
But Wilson Belk birdied Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 10 and Anderson climbed back to even after shooting 3-over on the front.
With two holes remaining Paulson let the players know where they stood. At that point, qualifying for state wasn’t really in question — but beating Pueblo South certainly was.
From there, Anderson drained a 9-foot par putt on No. 17 and a 12-foot birdie putt on 18 to provide the winning margin.
“It was nice to have a good tournament when it matters,” said Anderson, who qualified for state last year but was disappointed by his tie for 71st. “I’m pumped. I can’t wait. I’m a much different golfer this year than I was last year.”
Cheyenne Mountain wasn’t alone in experiencing relief at the close of the round.
Sand Creek senior Justin Watson, who was in the running for a league title throughout the year, nervously waited to see if his 82 would extend his season.
It did, as the cut line was at 83.
Other area qualifiers included a number of underclassmen. Wilson Belk and Anderson are both sophomores, as is Vista Ridge’s Dylan Hall (78). Three freshmen also qualified, as Coronado’s Isaac Petersilie shot 79 and Mesa Ridge’s Braden Bentley shot 82. Another Coronado freshman, Austin Burgess, was the last man standing after a three-man elimination playoff for the first alternate among three who shot 84. Burgess will also be at state, as Pueblo South's No. 4 player shot 98 and wasn't within 10 of the cut and therefore did not qualify.
Other qualifiers included Discovery Canyon’s Jacob Trujillo (78), Palmer Ridge’s Cale Brandt (82) and Lewis-Palmer’s Logan Bryson (83). Air Academy qualified Lucas Rockwell and (81) and Zach Pape (83).
Pape didn’t play the first three league events.
“He just quietly worked his way up,” longtime Kadets coach Wayne Marshall said. “When we got ready to pick the kids to see who was going to regionals, we were kind of shocked that Zack had beat a couple of the other guys. But he’s earned it.”
There’s no doubt the Indians earned the right to finally put last year’s disappointment in the past.
“We had something to prove,” Paulson said. “To have the great year we had last year and then do what we did at regionals, that left a pretty bad taste in our mouths. This was a big weight off of our shoulders.”
4A Southern Region
At the Country Club of Colorado
Jimmy Mackloski, Pueblo South 65
Wilson Belk, Cheyenne Mountain 69
Cole Anderson, Cheyenne Mountain 71
Glenn Workman, Pueblo West 72
Dan Belk, Cheyenne Mountain 75
Chase Federico, Pueblo South 75
Jacob Allenback, Pueblo Centennial 76
Justin Allenback, Pueblo Centennial 76
Taylor Rodriguez, Pueblo South 77
Dylan Hall, Vista Ridge 78
Alex Freimuth, Cheyenne Mountain 78
Sebastian Erlacher, Pueblo East 78
Eli Schoenbeck, Pueblo West 78
Jacob Trujillo, Discovery Canyon 78
Isaac Petersilie, Coronado 79
Dwayne Skolsk, Canon City 81
Dylan Swanson, Pueblo East 81
Lucas Rockwell, Air Academy 81
Cale Brandt, Palmer Ridge 82
Michael Kerr, Canon City 82
Justin Watson, Sand Creek 82
Braden Bentley, Mesa Ridge 82
Dylan Cresswell, Pueblo East 82
Logan Bryson, Lewis-Palmer 83
Zach Pape, Air Academy 83
*Austin Burgess, Coronado 84
*Won playoff as first alternate
4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference
Players use their top four scores from the five league events
Cole Anderson, Cheyenne Mountain xx-71-74-72-71—288
Wilson Belk, Cheyenne Mountain 74-xx-72-75-69—290
Justin Watson, Sand Creek 73-xx-70-80-82—305
Dan Belk, Cheyenne Mountain 76-79-76-xx-75—306
Dylan Hall, Vista Ridge 77-xx-75-77-78—307
Jacob Trujillo, Discovery Canyon xx-83-77-81-78—319
Dean Hall, Vista Ridge xx-79-79-79-84—321
Matt Vogeney, Air Academy 90-83-81-77-xx—331
Marcus Fenimore, Lewis-Palmer 82-xx-83-78-88—331
Cale Brandt, Palmer Ridge 82-92-xx-77-82—333
Team totals are figured from top three scores from each league event
Cheyenne Mountain 1118
Vista Ridge 1233
Air Academy 1244
Sand Creek 1305
Palmer Ridge 1313