Montrose High School golfer Ally Nichols

Montrose High School golfer Ally Nichols fires a shot during the Black Canyon Invite earlier this season. 

Montrose High School girls golf coach Dan Herod hopes he can qualify a state team for the third-straight season but knows two golfers are on the outside looking in.

A state team is typically filled with three or four golfers; and, in the Lady Indians’ case, they seemingly have two locks in Ashlyn Manuel and Ally Nichols, two state qualifiers from last year. Amanda Beaver and Caraline Burwell have recorded scores that would likely be a few strokes back of the potential state cut, said Herod.

They’ll know for certain at regionals, which is on Monday at Adobe Creek in Fruita.

Herod said, based on the last few years, the score to qualify for the state tournament will probably be about 95. Beaver and Burwell’s average scores are around 97-98.

Herod did say he’s optimistic that at least one of those two can make it to state.

He added his goal for them is to keep the ball on the fairway, which would avoid penalty strokes, and not three-putting on any hole.

“If they can avoid (those), we have a strong possibility of getting them to state because they have been hitting the ball really well,” said Herod.

But penalty shots are common at Adobe Creek. The course has tall, thick brush lined up and down the fairway, and if a ball veers too far into the rough, a golfer would then suffer a penalty, said Herod.

The Montrose coach said, with that being the case, the Lady Indians’ focus will be on “accuracy over distance.”

The four golfers are used to making changes on the fly. Herod said he’s been impressed with the Lady Indians’ willingness to improve their golf game all season long.

Montrose’s top golfer, Manuel, has probably seen the most changes to her game. She has worked throughout the season with assistant coach Kala Rusk on refining her swing.

But by changing an overall swing is difficult to do in a short amount of time as sometimes such a different stroke takes months “before it can really gel,” Herod said.

He praised Manuel’s “sticktoitiveness” but added the MHS golfer says her score isn’t as low as she wants it to be.

“She hasn’t abandoned anything. … She’s really trying to stick through with the changes in her swing,” said Herod.

Nichols has also shown improvement over the course of the season, the Montrose coach said, adding that her tee-to-green game is one of her strongest assets. But her short game is what needs the most improvement and has been a point of focus at practice, Herod said.

Montrose is familiar with Adobe Creek. The team played the course earlier this season on April 15. At that tournament, MHS took second place with an overall score of 63-over par (282).

Manuel finished tied for fifth, scoring 18-over par (91). Nichols ended up tied for eighth with a 95; Beaver shot a 96; and Burwell carded a 102.

The Lady Indians plan to play a practice round on Sunday to help better prepare for regionals, Herod said.

This year’s state competition will be May 20-21 at Pelican Lakes Golf Course in Windsor.

Herod said he’s familiar with the course, as he’s played at it before. He explained, like the regionals’ golf site, Pelican Lakes has plenty of hazards but, instead of brush, it’s water that golfers will hope to avoid.

“They’ll have to keep the ball in the fairway or it’ll be a very long day,” Herod said.

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.

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