GUNNISON – A lot can happen in 18 holes of golf.
With the spotlight on the best high school golfers in western Colorado shining on Dos Rios Golf Course in Gunnison, Montezuma-Cortez High School brought its strongest performance of the year en route to a third-place finish in the 3A Region 4 Championships.
The team posted a mark of 255 to finish just one place out of team qualification, but sent Blake Keetch and JJ Brunner to the 3A State Championships.
“I’m proud of the whole team,” said M-CHS head coach Micah Rudosky. “We worked hard to earn our best team performance of the year.”
On a course layout that requires course management and consistent shot-making, Keetch led the way, carding a round of 80 to claim eighth place in the regional competition. He makes a return visit to the state championships, where he landed a 19th-place finish a year ago in a weather-shortened one-day competition.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of talent,” said Rudosky of Keetch’s success. “Once he gets comfortable, he’s so tough to beat.”
A work ethic accompanies the high ambitions set by Keetch, as he spends countless hours refining his game on his home course, Conquistador Golf Course.
Brunner makes his first appearance in the 3A State Championships, courtesy of a well-earned 85 on Dos Rios to take 15th place in the tournament. A strong start and a battle to the finish helped Brunner earn one of the coveted 13 individual spots in the state championships.
“I knew he could do it,” Rudosky said of Brunner’s tough mindset. “Once I knew he was close, we worked through managing the final holes to earn a place.”
Tim Wyman (90) and Corey Wright (101) aided the Panther effort in their team finish, as Aspen and Basalt took the overall top two team positions.
“We’re looking forward to the state championships,” said Rudosky. “Blake has been there before, so he has the experience of knowing what it’s like playing with those other guys. It’ll be great for JJ to get that experience as well.”
Keetch and Brunner will tee off their first round at Boulder Country Club in the 3A State Championships on Monday, Oct. 1, with the second round to follow on Tuesday, Oct. 2.