Early season Colorado prep golf forecast: Teams, players to watch in all three classes

Early season Colorado prep golf forecast: Teams, players to watch in all three classes

The 2017 boys golf season got underway across the state Thursday, with three classes of golfers breaking in the 2017-18 CHSAA sports year. Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman breaks down teams and players to watch on the links this fall:

Class 5A

Eaglecrest senior Davis Bryant is the obvious frontrunner for an individual title, having taken runner-up last season in addition to winning the Colorado Junior PGA Championship this summer.

And in the team race, defending champion Regis Jesuit again has the inside edge. The Raiders return seniors Cal McCoy and Drew Anderson, both of whom tied for 6th at state, and Regis Jesuit shot a program-record 12 under to win the season-opening Continental League meet by a whopping 18 strokes at Deer Creek Country Club on Aug. 10.

“Those two guys are going to lead us,” Regis Jesuit coach Craig Rogers said. “But throughout the season and during our Continental League schedule — the league has won all but two state titles since the year 2000, so a lot of it is getting by our own league — the importance and skill of our other guys will emerge, too.”

Rogers also mentioned Lakewood, Fossil Ridge and Cherry Creek will again be solid this year, as will a pair of Front Range League teams in Boulder and Fairview.

State Tournament: Oct. 2-3, Common Ground Golf Course, Aurora

Class 4A

Defending individual champion Luke Trujillo is back for Discovery Canyon, and he joins fellow senior Caleb Blackburn (10th at state) as well as talented emerging players in making the Thunder a favorite to repeat as a team.

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“I’ve got pretty strong classes in my juniors, sophomores and freshmen that just came in, too, so the future here is really bright,” Discovery Canyon coach Mark Liggett said. “So in terms of filling the third and fourth spots, we’re going to be okay, especially with Luke and Caleb pacing us.”

There are other individual talents that will challenge Trujillo — who beat Silver Creek graduate Jackson Solem in a playoff for the title last year — for another championship. Thompson Valley senior Darren Edwards (tied for fourth), Roosevelt senior Tyler Severin (sixth), Eagle Valley senior Barrett Jones (tied for seventh) and Montrose sophomore Micah Stangebye (tied for seventh) are all capable.

And team-wise, Liggett said Cheyenne Mountain, Valor Christian, Silver Creek and Evergreen will be in the mix again come October, while other teams can come out of the woodwork as the season progresses.

“That’s the thing about this sport — just like our program has a number of talented underclassmen that people don’t necessarily know about yet, other teams could have one or two of those guys, too,” Liggett said.

State Tournament: Oct. 2-3, Raccoon Creek Golf Course, Littleton

Class 3A

At the state’s smallest golf classification, the usual suspect reigns supreme in the early season once again, as defending champion Kent Denver — whose nine titles are more than any other program in the state — returns its top three golfers.

Senior Oliver Jack was the individual champion last season, while junior Jackson Klutznick (fourth) and sophomore Ben Zimmerman (10th) headline a Sun Devils squad that’s deeper than just its veterans.

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“It was really close last year for who made our varsity, so I’m returning five of my best six golfers and I’ve got a really good freshman coming in as well,” Kent Denver coach Bob Austin said. “It’s going to be a season-long competition for our fourth spot.”

The Sun Devils will be tested against nationally elite competition at the Antigua National High School Golf Invitational on Sept. 1 and 2 in Chandler, Ariz. — Regis Jesuit will also be there — as Kent Denver aims to distance itself from other top 3A teams.

“We’ll need to be better throughout the fall,” Austin said, “because there’s a couple other teams in the state that are right where we are, no question about it.”

Namely, Peak to Peak — runner-up by three strokes last year — brings back senior Ethan Tartaglia (third) and seniors Nishant Datta and Ian Thorpe, both of whom tied for sixth. Dawson, Colorado Academy and Jefferson Academy will also make noise.

State Tournament: Oct. 2-3, Indian Peaks Golf Course, Lafayette

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