M-CHS golf team wins 3rd straight 4A regional title, returns to state
Montezuma-Cortez High School’s golf team was pushed to the limit Tuesday afternoon on their home course, but found a way.
The way of Jakob Rudosky’s wedge on the Par-4 18th hole at Conquistador Golf Course.
Rudosky didn’t need four shots on No. 18. He needed precision and a little bit of luck to escape the rough.
With the wind at his back, Rudosky fired the golf ball over a tree and onto the green. A couple of stiff 18th green bounces and just like that, the shot was good.
The excitement and shock of Rudosky’s spectacular eagle positioned the Panthers to win the one-hole team playoff versus Rifle, and claim the 4A Western Slope Regional Tournament title.
A Panthers region championship three-peat came down to Danny Bartels’ birdie putt from 10-feet to keep Rifle alive and force another playoff.
As the ball rolled along the dry green closer to the hole, the crowd noise steadily rose. Rudosky and teammate Hayden Plewe stood off the green, and watched Bartels’ ball roll around one side... and out.
Rudosky and Plewe hugged and the M-CHS fans cheered. The Panthers defended their region title and are going back to state.
It certainly wasn’t easy, as M-CHS edged Rifle in the playoff, 12 to 13.
“It was a battle. Rifle, they played great. We all played good, too,” said Rudosky, a Dolores High School junior. “Three years in a row now. That’s awesome. To win at our home course, is even better. We have a lot of confidence right now.”
Despite playing at home, Conquistador was just as difficult on the Panthers as it was for the other schools.
“They tried to make this course pretty hard. They didn’t water it as much as they normally do,” Rudosky said. “If you miss a green, it was hard to stop it close enough to the pin.”
Rudosky shot par at 72, which tied him with Riley Willis, of Montrose, for second overall. Palisade’s Kyler Smith shot a 2-under 70 to claim his second consecutive region championship medal and a spot at state. Palisade was fourth overall at 233 and Montrose took third with a 231. Summit was fifth out of 10 4A schools with a score of 237.
Only one full team can go to state, and M-CHS is going for the third straight season. Senior Keith Hawkins played his best round of the year with a 75.
“Oh my gosh. I’m speechless right now,” Hawkins said. “I played pretty solid today, but there was so much riding on that playoff. I though we lost it after a couple bogeys (by Hawkins and Tristan Shelby). When Jakob made that, all was restored. I think we’ll do fine at state.”
Plewe scored 79 to round out the team total of 226. It was a day of highs and lows for the Dolores sophomore.
“When Jakob eagled that last hole, the only thing that was going through my mind was, ‘Heck yeah! I can’t believe he just did that.’ I screamed my head off,” Plewe said with a wide grin. “We had to earn it the hard way, but I’m glad we did it. I’m glad we defended our home course.”
Fellow sophomore Tristan Shelby shot 86 for the Panthers. He will be going to state for the first time.
“I’ve matured a lot in my game this year. I’ve lost a lot of strokes this year,” Shelby said. “I played a little varsity last year, but it’s really good (to be going to state this season). I don’t know what to say about it. It’s just good.”
The Rifle Bears qualified three for the CHSAA 4A State Championships at Cobble Creek Golf Course in Montrose. In addition to Bartels, who shot 79, Triston Quigley (73) and Ty Caron (74) will go to state after their 226 second-place team performance.
“The course played tough. Some of the kids got at it pretty well, but the wind picked up in the second part of the day. You could see the scores creeping up as the day went on,” Rifle coach Jordan Smith said. “Throughout the day, I saw a lot of good shots. We would have liked to have shaved one stroke off our team score. But credit to Cortez for getting in the playoff there at the end. It was a good experience for our guys. I’m proud of the way they played.”
It was Rifle’s first tournament appearance at Conquistador. Smith and M-CHS coach Micah Rudosky are happy the state tournament is close to home in Montrose. Cobble Creek is a course Western Slope teams are very familiar with.
The Panthers placed sixth at a tournament on Aug. 30, at Cobble Creek. It was a good experience for M-CHS.
“It has some nice length to it, some big greens. You’ll use very club in your bag there,” coach Rudosky said about Cobble Creek. “We’ve played it quite a few times, so that’s a good thing. We have some things to work on before then. If we want to compete there, we’ll have to play better as a team for sure.”
The Panthers struggled on the Conquistador greens Tuesday, which is something the coach wants cleaned up.
“I feel we need to work on our short game,” Micah Rudosky said. “If we’re going to score, you got to have a good short game. You’re not always going to hit it well.”
M-CHS will have next week off before the two-day state tourney on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 1-2, in Montrose.
NOTES: Jakob Rudosky was named first-team All-Region 4A Western Slope, while garnering top medalist honors to rank him No. 1 on the West Slope among 4A golfers. Hayden Plewe made the second team. Montrose coach Angelo DeJulio received Coach of the Year.