Many high school golf teams are fortunate to have one or two elite-level players. A strong starting four is a coach’s dream.
Cheyenne Mountain coach John Carricato is faced with the opposite “problem.” He has three teams of top players, and each can rival just about any in the state.
“It’s fluid,” he said. “We use our performances in tournaments to make those decisions.”
Carricato has 14 players on his varsity. All but one has shot in the 70s at least once this season. The top four will play in the Region 2 tournament that Cheyenne Mountain will host Sept. 23 at The Country Club of Colorado.
“I want the best four guys to go to regionals,” said senior Grant Mondejar, who is on Team 3. “I came into this season realizing that regionals might be a reach for me, but I just want to push the other guys to be better and make everybody else better by competing against them. If I push them to be better, then I get better and have a good time.
“This team has a bright future, so it’s sort of like passing down the torch.”
The Indians have the talent to make a serious run at the Class 4A team championship next month. The two-day tournament is scheduled for Oct. 7-8 at The Bridges Golf and Country Club in Montrose.
Cheyenne Mountain won its first two Class 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference tournaments. The final of five league tournaments is Sept. 19 at The Club at Flying Horse.
The Indians could be a force for years. Carricato has four freshmen and three sophomores on varsity. Indians Team 1, in order, consists of senior Gabe Marmon, freshman Carter Surofchek, sophomore Campbell Grage and junior Connor Moberly.
“I want to be the best, and if I’m the best out of these four then I will be pretty good,” said Marmon, who has won two tournaments this season with a low round even-par 72 at Patty Jewett.
Grage and his fellow underclassmen on the team are trying to push the older players.
“We’re all trying put pressure on each other, but it feels good to have some older guys in front of us leading our team,” Grage said. “Everyone feels a need to compete because no one is guaranteed a spot.”
Surofchek doesn’t mind being the lone freshman in Team 1.
“You get better when people are better than you,” he said. “The older guys on this team set the example for you with all their experience.”
Carricato heaps heavy praise on his team and claims it’s their work ethic and attention to detail that has helped elevate his group.
“They put in a lot of work in the off-season and it shows when they go out on the course,” he said.
Carricato also gives plenty of praise to highly touted swings coach Ann Finke. She works with every player on the team, as well as most of the elite-level boys and girls players in the Pikes Peak region.
Finke has been on the professional staff at The Country Club of Colorado for more than 30 years.
“We are so strong because of her,” Carricato said. “She’s the secret to our success.”
Finke has her own teaching area — “Finke Hill” — set aside for her at the club. She has been a member of the PGA since 1983, and joined the staff at The Country Club of Colorado two years later. She was the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame’s 2011 “Person of the Year,” and was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2016.
“It’s the magic of the hill,” Finke said with a smile. “They come up here and they calm down and they hit good golf shots.
“We work on their brain the most because they all have such great athletic skill. I’ll ask them how their swing felt, more than tell them how to do it. We’ll see if we can’t get what we want accomplished by feeling this or that. It’s making sure they have their fundamentals before they swing.”