Montrose High School golfers win Air Academy Invite; regionals next

The Montrose High School varsity and junior varsity golf teams of 2020. Front row, left to right: John Cruz, Caleb Caskey, Kaleb Freeland, Micah Nichols, Connor Bell, Jakoby Casias, Ben Leu, Liam Beshoar, Noah Richmond, Kyden Bradburn. Back row, left to right: head coach Steve Skiff, Blake Highland, Jack Flower, Kreed Martinez, Quinn Hughes, Jordan Jennings, Klay Martinez, Jake Legg, Logan Files, Brooks Blackford, Rocco Manuel, assistant coach Tom Young. Not pictured: assistant coach Cory Jackson. 

Though the Montrose High School boys golf team wasn’t able to capture a team title earlier this week, which would have been the team’s fourth straight, the younger group of golfers gained experience of state play. Freshman Noah Richmond and sophomores Rocco Manuel and Jake Legg were a part of a Montrose team that finished third (472), 13 strokes behind champion Cheyenne Mountain (459).

The trio were led by senior Jordan Jennings, who captured an individual state championship on Tuesday after shooting a three-under par 68 on the day. Jennings originally tailed heading into day two of the tournament, two strokes behind Mullen’s Mario Dino.

But Jennings pulled off the Tuesday comeback, making it three straight years a Montrose golfer captured an individual title. (Jennings will play college golf at Colorado State University.)

“It was a great tournament, and obviously really excited for Jordan winning a state championship,” MHS coach Steve Skiff said on Friday. “It was well deserved and he played two great rounds of golf. It’s something I know Jordan has been working on for a long time and it was so much fun for us to be a part of, so really super excited for him.”

Both Richmond and Legg posted a two-day total of 164 while Manuel finished with a total of 180 (93, 87) after a better second day on the course. Though the scores were a tad higher than usual for a group that consistently posted steady numbers all year, it was a team performance Skiff was pleased with.

“I thought we had a good state tournament overall,” he said. “I know we maybe didn’t shoot the scores we wanted to but for our sophomores and freshman to be able to get the experience of playing in the state tournament, it was huge. I think they learned a lot and are going to be able to take some of those lessons learned.”

With the trio returning, Montrose has as good a chance as any 4A team to capture a team title in 2021 and the years to come. That’s thanks to a young group of golfers — 13 freshman and sophomores — that will return with a year of experience they can pull from.

“It’s a great group coming back,” Skiff said. “For them to get out and get some experience this year was huge. It’s only going to benefit them. I think for them, they’re excited to get out and work on their game for next year. It’s going to be very competitive on our team to see who makes the regional and potential state teams next year, which is great.”

Skiff was also pleased with the way the Indians handled the 2020 season, one that saw some adjustments needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Completing the season, too, was something Skiff didn’t take lightly. (Seniors in spring sports had their seasons nixed several months ago after action was taken by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.)

“We were thankful and fortunate that we got our season in,” he said. “Yes, we are distanced, but the kids were really good about taking the necessary steps and protocols so that we were able to play our season. And it wasn’t just our team, it was every team that we played against that was really good about following those protocols. It could have taken one instance and you never know.

“I was really proud of not only our team but all the kids around the state that did what they needed to do to make sure golf happened.”

The boys golf program, now youthful and talented, has been a 4A mainstay over the past several years. A local community that provides plenty of opportunity for young golfers, while developing their interest and talent, has been an integral reason as to why the program is where it’s at today, Skiff said — he also gave praise to former head coach Dave Woodruff, who retired after last season.

“I see our program hopefully sustaining a high level for a long time to come,” Skiff said. “A big credit has to go to the local golf professionals — Tom Young, Eric Feely, Gerard Lanser. Those guys have really done a great job of promoting golf in Montrose… that, as a high school coach, is invaluable because we’re then able to get 10, 15, 20 kids that really take an interest in golf and are starting early.

“It’s a community effort, and I look forward to our program continuing to be a strong program throughout the state.”

Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press

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