Summit High golfers finish 7th on fast state championship greens

After Monday struggles, Tigers seniors Nakos, Cibula bounce back to lead way

Summit Tigers senior golfer Ryley Cibula drains a birdie on the 18th hole, the final of his high school career, at the 4A Boys State Golf Championship at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.
Photo from Summit Tigers Golf

DILLON — The Summit High Tigers were faced with a lack of familiarity on a difficult golf course heading into Monday and Tuesday’s 4A State Championship Golf Tournament at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

Of the four Tigers players and head coach Ryne Scholl, Summit senior Tyler Nakos was the only one of the five who’d ever played the course before. When you combine the state championship’s tricky forward pin placements on fast, firm greens in windy conditions, it presented a two-day, 36-hole state championship experience the first-year coach Scholl described as “extremely challenging.”

“A much longer course than we typically play and much windier than any day we’ve played through the year,” Scholl said.

In the lead up to the 10-team tournament, Nakos shared with the team what he remembered of playing the Country Club of Colorado this past July: Though the course plays straight and open and doesn’t appear to have many tricks to it, the greens are full of speed. They seemed even faster when the Tigers played their one practice round on Sunday. It was clear the course was demanding golfers stay above the hole once on the greens to avoid downhill putting.

After two days, the Tigers had their share of tribulations and triumphs. In the end, Summit’s top three scorers shot a 494 over six individual rounds in two days. The score averaged out to an 82.33 per individual 18-hole round — just over 11 strokes over par per round on the par-71 course that played long.

The team score, which earned the Tigers a seventh-place finish of 10 teams at the state championship meet, came after Nakos and fellow senior Ryley Cibula each improved their 18-hole scores by five or more strokes on Tuesday. Nakos’ 77 on Tuesday was the lowest single-round score for a Tiger at the tournament, which Nakos combined with an 85 from Monday for a two-day score of 162 to lead the Tigers.

Nakos said he was focused on putting himself in better situations Tuesday to manage the challenges of the unforgiving greens. Nakos’ performance on Tuesday, Scholl said, was top 15 for the tournament.

“Tyler had a great final nine holes,” Scholl said. “He was one over (par), with eight straight pars. Tyler and I had a great conversation on the 10th hole about trying to play match play against the course. Just play against par and don’t worry about the other things going on. And he was able to do that.”

From left to right, Summit Tigers golfers Ricky Ahlquist, Ranger Stone, Ryley Cibula, Tyler Nakos and head coach Ryne Scholl pose for a team picture together at the 4A Boys State Golf Championship at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020.
Photo from Summit Tigers Golf

In his return to the state championship stage, Cibula (163) followed up an 84 on Monday with a 79 on Tuesday. Scholl said it meant a lot to Cibula to finish his final round as a high school golfer below 80. In order to do so, he had to birdie one of the course’s most difficult holes, the 18th. It was a 442-yard par-4 with water down the entire right side and a green guarded by sand and water.

Scholl was confident Cibula could keep the ball out of the water based on how in control Cibula was of his driver and irons. He did so again on 18, piping it off the tee box straight down the fairway and 20 yards farther than anyone else in his group. With a wedge in Cibula’s hand as he eyed the 18th green, Scholl told the senior to go out in style.

“And that’s exactly what he did,” Scholl said. “A 12-foot birdie putt on a par 4. It really showed Ryley’s skill set and maturity on that last hole to narrow his focus in.”

The juniors Stone and Ahlquist each scored 176 over the two days. Scholl said he’s hopeful Stone — who is also a top player on the Summit boys soccer team — will play both fall sports next autumn. The coach said Stone’s Tuesday score of 85 was evidence of how far he’s come after the beginning of this year when his goal was to merely break 90.

Ahlquist’s best round was his 84 on Monday, which tied for the Tigers low. Scholl said it’s Ahlquist’s goal to shoot two rounds in the 70s at state championships as a senior, which the coach said is possible thanks to his experience at the top tournament as a sophomore and junior.

Nakos said he is undecided on whether he will play golf in college. Cibula said he may not play golf in college though he is interested in pursuing golf course management next year at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. As for the Tigers program he’s leaving behind, Cibula said it’s in good hands with Scholl.

“Ryne’s a great coach,” Cibula said. “He knows how to help players work their way around a course and a round, and I think that was the biggest part for me. A lot of the freshmen will benefit from learning how to play the game through four years of high school, so I think we could be pretty good the next few years.”

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