Denver-area golf teams excel on the links

DENVER – The best high school golfers from across the state will descend upon the Pinehurst area for next week’s state championships and the west side of Lake Norman will be well represented. 

Lincoln Charter wins 2A West Regional

The Eagles took first place in the 2A West Regional Championship held May 2 at the Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club in Rutherfordton, posting a score of 317 to edge second-place Polk County by six strokes. 

“In our conference, playing schools like Community School of Davidson, Pine Lake Prep and Christ the King each week kept our mind sharp and helped prepare us for this moment,” Lincoln Charter head coach Brad Gabriel said. “That was a grind through a strong league and we only beat CSD by four strokes overall to win the conference.”

The Eagles placed five golfers among the top 20 finishers at Cleghorn, with the top four – Jonathan Jones, Dyanni Rhyne, Sam Bruce and Joseph Bruce – qualifying for the state championship, beginning Monday, May 9, at Foxfire Resort and Golf. Jones, a sophomore, led the way, shooting 77 to finish inside the top 10. 

“We talked about being consistent and not playing against another team but focusing on playing each hole and the course itself, so it was great to see the kids come out and execute,” Gabriel said. “The course was very tough even though it wasn’t very long. I don’t think many of our guys used their driver much, which probably had a little bit to do with why I felt like we left seven to 10 strokes on the course. But to shoot a 317, I’ll take that all day long and would even take that in the state championship and see what happens from there.”

Gabriel awarded the team with a couple days off for winning the regional championship, allowing for a mental break following the grind of the season to get to this point. 

“It’s been a mental grind for our kids and they’re young so I wanted to give them a couple days away,” he said. “Then we’ll get back on the course at Verdict Ridge and work on our lag putting and our short game. That’s been our strong suit so we’ll dial that in and keep doing what we’ve been doing. I think the best coaching job I can do is just to basically stay out of the way at this point.”

Lincoln Charter will get a single practice round Sunday afternoon at Foxfire before teeing off the next day to start the first round. The Eagles do have prior experience on the course, however, finishing fourth in last year’s 1A State Championship. 

“I don’t know if it’ll be an advantage come Monday, but the kids are familiar with the course and posted some good scores there a year ago,” Gabriel said.

The Eagles continue to honor former coach Jamie Seitz, who died in December 2020 after being hospitalized with COVID-19. The players all carry ball markers that read “Seitz 22.”

“We just want everyone to know that he’s still a part of us in everything that we do,” Gabriel said. 

Bandys qualifies for state championship

The Trojans earned a third-place finish behind Lincoln Charter and Polk County in the 2A West Regional Championship. Bandys cleared Forest City’s Chase in fourth place by seven strokes to take the final team qualifying spot for the state championship.

The Bandys foursome will be led by Atley Gabriel, who shot 73 at Cleghorn to finish third overall and just one stroke off the lead. Samuel Harwell also placed in the top 10, shooting 76 to finish eighth. Chase Barnette and Owen Little will play third and fourth, respectively, for the Trojans. 

Mustangs win Western Foothills 3A

The East Lincoln boys golf team earned its first conference championship since 2007, winning the Western Foothills 3A by 20 strokes. All five Mustangs singles players finished among the top 13 players in the conference with Trent Wharton, Drew Coppin, Landon Jay, Will Faulkenberry and Jared Meyers all being named to the All-Conference team. East Lincoln shot 327 and placed sixth in the 3A West Regional Championship. 

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