EVERGREEN - Score one for Hiwan Golf Club.
"I've been doing this for 34 years, and without question, this is the toughest course I've ever seen for state," said longtime Cheyenne Mountain coach Bill Paulson after the first of two rounds of the class 4A boys' golf tournament Monday. "All you can do on a course like this is grind, and never stop grinding until it's done."
Of the 84 players who teed off Monday, only one broke par. Two others finished even. Everybody else finished over par.
Two of the area's best finished the first round high on the leaderboard. Coronado sophomore Isaac Petersilie finished at even-par 70, while Cheyenne Mountain junior Wilson Belk missed a short putt on 18 to card a one-over 71.
Both performances have their squads very much in contention for a state title. Cheyenne Mountain trails leader Silver Creek by only seven shots and second-place Valor Christian by two.
Coronado stands in fourth place, still just 11 shots off the lead.
Elsewhere, Vista Ridge junior Dylan Hall shot a 77, tied for 10th overall.
Belk started his round with a double-bogey on No. 1, then regrouped for six straight pars before a birdie and bogey finished the front nine. On the back, he recorded two birdies and just one bogey to make up a shot.
He trudged off the 18th green and looked forward to some down time, especially with his older brother Daniel, who took a few days off from studies at the University of North Carolina, to cheer on the Indians in Evergreen.
"I'm really tired," Belk said. "This is mentally and physically the hardest course I've ever played on in a tournament, by far. And I've played at a lot of courses."
Cheyenne Mountain's other golfers didn't fare as well, but they had plenty of company. Turner Estes and Pat Shin, both making their state debuts, shot 78 and 81, respectively. Cole Anderson finished with an 88.
Still, they're right in the game as the Indians seek their first boys' state title since 2004.
"We have a good mentality," Belk said. "If we can be seven back and have the numbers we had today, we're OK. We have the ability for everyone to shoot 70. It comes down to if we all have a good day."
Petersilie, already making his second 4A state tournament appearance but first as part of a team, navigated the 7,097-yard course notoriously known for its fast and unpredictable greens to an even 35-35, recording four bogeys, four birdies and 10 pars.
Teammate Wes Moran carded an 80, while Austin Burgess and Kyle Kleckner finished the round at 84 and 85, respectively.
"The course took a bite out of everyone," Coronado coach Blake Miller said. "We're in fourth, so we're not in a bad place as a team."