Pine Creek junior Wesley Erling tees off at hole No. 12 during the 5A boys’ state golf championship tournament Oct. 5 at the Colorado Springs Country Club.

Wesley Erling was in a slump when the high school golf season started.

There was just no other way to put it. He's been through it before, he understands well the up's and down's and mental challenges of the game he's been playing competitively since he was 5-years-old.

It took him two months — until the middle of the season — before Erling felt like he could confidently step up to the ball and make a good swing. The Pine Creek junior was able to move pass it. He finished as the runner-up at the state championship. Now, he's adding Peak Performer to his accolades for the season. 

"It was exhausting," he said. "You just have to keep practicing and keep grinding and it will work out in the end. It's a lot of mental stress when you are going through a slump."

Erling was one of the leaders of the 12-person Pine Creek team this year, taking on added responsibilities to help out some of his newer teammates. He became almost like an extra coach, taking the time to help others with their swings and give advice. Erling said he found it fun getting to know his new teammates this year, and that it kept practices entertaining. 

"He's grown a lot since his freshman year," Pine Creek coach Joey Fillo said. "He's always been a great golfer, but as a leader he's grown into that role now where he's taking kids under his wing and being more vocal."

Heading into the state tournament, Erling felt ready. He knew the course well, having played there a few times already, and made a game plan with his father. Erling knew he had to play it smart, and he felt like he played well the entire time.

It was tiny mistakes ending up costing him the individual title. He finished second, falling in a playoff, and Pine Creek finished sixth as a team. 

"He just had a great mental attitude the entire time," Fillo said. "He didn't let the pressure get to him of being so close and being in those playoff holes. ... he didn't do anything to lose. He didn't have any bad shots."

Still, despite not walking around with the trophy, he showed major improvements from his past results. He finished tied for 36th in the state his freshman year and fourth as a sophomore.

Erling decided not to play basketball this season, wanting to devote more time to golf and his training. He wants that state title, and plans to do everything he can to try to get it. 

"I've gotten close the past few years," he said. "I think the biggest thing for high school is just to close it out."

All-Area performers: 

Cheyenne Mountain senior, Campbell Grage

Cheyenne Mountain junior, Thomas Herholtz

Falcon junior, Brayden Larose

Falcon junior, Reese Knox

Lewis-Palmer senior, Gregory Lewis

Liberty senior, Alex Lund

Liberty senior, Hayden Woelk

Pine Creek junior, Rylen Caldwell