Under the watch of Bald Mountain to the south, Summit High School golfers swung to an eighth place finish of 18 teams with a score of 253.
Nearly 70 golfers played the Keystone Ranch Golf Course Thursday during Summit High School's Keystone Ranch Invitational, which hosted 14 schools and 18 teams. Valor Christian took first and second places with A and B teams tallying scores of 232 and 236, respectively. Boulder came in third with a 238 followed by Legacy High School with a 240. Palisade, Regis Jesuit and Ralston Valley high schools scored in the 240s, with 241, 245 and 249, respectively.
Many players had a hard time on the course, facing fast greens that had them tallying more putts than they'd have liked. Winds picked up in the afternoon as clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped, but the weather held off unlike last year, when golfers dodged lightning.
"The greens were tough, but good," said Ross Macdonald of Valor Christian, who shot a 78. He typically shoots a 72-73. "The course was fair. It allowed for birdies if you're shooting well," Macdonald added.
Even SHS senior Dylan Mitchell, Summit's star golfer, led his team but came in well behind many of the competitors with a 78, landing him outside the top 10 individuals.
"I was sick all last week," Mitchell said, adding that he's still fighting a cold. "I'm battling to get back. My swing doesn't feel right."
It's just not as in control as usual, he said, but added that he considers himself in the off-season between major summer competitions and the state tournament in October. Coach Gary Sorensen said he suspects Mitchell was rough Thursday because he's in the midst of tweaking his swing, aiming to be able to drop it from left to right or straight down the fairway as options to his natural swing, which cuts from right to left.
"You can make a mess of it trying to do it without being real efficient," Sorensen said about shaping the shot.
Ralston Valley's Brett Humphrey, who played alongside Mitchell on Thursday, also said the course was hard.
"I had a bunch of three-putts. It's tough to score well with that," said Humphrey, who scored an 89 when he usually hits around 77.
Hole number 8 proved a challenge for much of the field, with the pin placed just on the other side of a long incline that many golfers undershot or landed with the wrong spin, sending the ball rolling back to where it started. It forced both David Metzger (89 overall) and Mike Magnussen (90 overall) to shoot seven on the par-4 hole. Nick Wittrock parred the hole to finish up, helping him along to an 86 overall.
All the while, Sorensen followed his players, walking with them between holes and seeking to keep their attitudes positive. He could tell that Wittrock was fighting "a mental battle of not living up to his standard," so encouraged the youth to simply smile as he approached the back nine.
"This game is so emotional, you can have several good swings and all of a sudden, you think you can't do anything," Sorensen said. "You need to do a few positive things despite your negative attitude to get back."
Mitchell was last year's medalist at the invitational, shooting a 69 on the par-72 course.
"He won't repeat, but in this game, you can't play the best round you've ever had every time," Sorensen said.
1. Valor Christian A - 232
2. Valor Christian B - 236
3. Boulder - 238
4. Legacy - 240
5. Palisade - 241
6. Regis Jesuit - 245
7. Ralston Valley - 249
8. Summit A - 253
9. Greeley Central - 253
10. Vail Mountain School - 260
11. Valor Christian C - 260
12. Summit B - 287
13. Bear Creek - 304
14. Dakota Ridge - 307
15. Colorado Academy - 309
16. Lake County - 339
(other teams not listed)
1. Kyler Smith, Palisade - 75
2. Grant Rogers, Boulder - 75
3. Josh Sieple, Valor Christian A - 76
4. Skyler Miller, Palisade - 76
5. Alex Aguirre, Ralston Valley - 76
6. Li Chen, Legacy - 76
7. Dean Brown, Valor Christian B - 77
8. Ross Macdonald, Valor Christian A - 78
9. Jake Staiano, Valor Christian A - 78
10. Colby Welch, Valor Christian A - 78
Dylan Mitchell - 78
Dave Metzger - 89
Mike Magnuson - 90
Nick Wittrock - 86
Jack Bilenduke - 98
Clair MacMurray - DQ
Andy Falcone - 92
Garrison Ortega - 97
Jack Farrell - 103
Jake Schulman - 105