Pair of Summit golfers qualify for state championship
Ricky Ahlquist, Ranger Stone each finish top 10 at regional tournament
A fateful, three-hole stretch helped tell the story of the two Summit High School seniors who qualified Tuesday, Sept. 21, from the regional golf tournament to the state championship golf tournament.
At The Links at Cobble Creek in Montrose, Summit senior Ricky Ahlquist recorded an 18-hole score of 79 strokes, while senior Ranger Stone scored an 81. The two scores ranked Ahlquist and Stone seventh and 10th, respectively, at the 4A Regional 4 tournament and helped Summit to score in fifth place as a team along with sophomore Carter Gillett’s 87. Gillett’s mark was just a few strokes off from earning his way into a playoff spot to qualify to state as an individual.
It was holes 9, 10 and 11 at Cobble Creek that were at the heart of Stone and Ahlquist’s rounds. The three-hole stretch came toward the end of each golfer’s round after they started on the 16th hole. And the stretch of holes came on a Cobble Creek course replete with five par 5s, opening up the opportunity for kids to shoot low and make up strokes.
That’s exactly what Ahlquist did on the ninth hole, a long hole with water hazards to the left and right of the fairway and to the right of the green. The hole exemplified the kind of course Cobble Creek is, as a par 5 that led up to a green with lots of undulation and slope where Tigers golfers like Ahlquist had to be in the right spots — namely to play below the pin.
“We were doing our best to keep double bogeys off the card,” Scholl said. “We wanted to give ourselves uphill putts and chips all day.”
On that ninth hole, the long hitter Ahlquist bombed a drive down the fairway before he checked in with Scholl. The duo came to the decision to go for the green in two rather than laying up 100 yards away from the green. The senior grabbed an aggressive club and hit it just short of the green. He then chipped in his third shot to 3 feet from the pin before he sank a short birdie putt.
Ahlquist paired the birdie with a bogey on the par-4 10th hole and a par on what Scholl said was the most difficult hole on the course — a long, 200-yard par 3 on 11 — to bounce back for his third-straight state tournament appearance.
“Ricky came into the holes not playing great, but he gained confidence to get it done the rest of his round, where he was smooth and consistent,” Scholl said.
Stone’s play of the ninth-through-eleventh holes weren’t as strong as Ahlquist, as he shot 6 over par with a triple bogey, bogey and double bogey. But the coach said Stone showcased his competitive spirit as he didn’t throw in the towel. Rather, he dug his feet in and finished strong to make the coach, and team, proud, while also earning his way to his second-straight state tournament appearance.
After 11, Scholl said Stone was on the cut line of the top 13. But he didn’t let the round snowball, scoring par on each of his final four holes.
“He saw those four holes as an opportunity to go out and take it into his own control,” Scholl said. “For us, what we talked about today was the most important thing is you want to go down swinging if you go down. Whether you have success or failure, you want to go down not afraid of holes. Go out there and play them aggressively and confidently, and that’s what he was ultimately able to do.”
Scholl said it was great to see Gillett finish his round with a smile on his face knowing he is good enough to compete with the best golfers in the region, as he should be a threat to qualify for state in his final two years.
Perhaps the team’s singular highlight of the day came when Gillett slam-dunked a tee shot with his hybrid 195 yards straight into the cup on a par 3 before it bounced out and set him up for a birdie from 3 feet out.
Though Summit’s fourth golfer on the day, junior Rece Greff, struggled with a score of 100, Scholl said he’s proud Greff stayed positive and played with respect despite not having his best round.
“If anything, that’s culture we are trying to build here — to present ourselves as best we can,” Scholl said. “At Summit, we are going to work our butts off and, win or lose, keep our heads held high.”
Ahlquist and Stone are now set to play in the 4A state championship tournament Oct. 4-5 at City Park in Denver.
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