After winning Regionals again, the Montezuma-Cortez High School golf team is going back to state.
Only this time, the Panthers won on home course in a one-hole playoff tiebreaker. Jakob Rudoskys miraculous 115-yard wedged shot out of the rough for eagle greatly helped M-CHS win its third straight Regional title.
Instead of bussing to the Front Range, the Panthers will trek over the San Juan Mountains to Montrose. Cobble Creek Golf Course is the site of the Colorado High School Activities Association 4A Golf State Championships on Monday and Tuesday.
The Panthers know Cobble Creek very well. As a team, M-CHS placed sixth at a tournament there Aug. 30. Micah Rudoskys squad didnt have its best day, but it was a valuable learning experience.
We didnt play as well as we could have, coach Rudosky said. The course is a lot of fun to play. (Its) challenging, yet fair. As well as we know it, we got a great chance to go in there and play well.
Cobble Creek is a 6,892-yard course with long fairways, so precise putting is a must. The Panthers struggled on the Conquistador Golf Course greens at Regionals.
Were working on short game, Micah Rudosky said. Weve just been working on chipping and putting. They had a good season, but we got to keep at it.
M-CHS placed second as a team at state in 2010 and was fourth last year. Defending state champion Silver Creek High School, from Longmont, will compete. Fellow Front Range contenders Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch) and Pueblo South finished ahead of the Panthers in 2011.
A goal of a state championship is very attainable for M-CHS. The plan is to be close at the end of the second day with a chance to win.
Are we going to win? We dont know, because theres some strong teams out there, Micah Rudosky said. What we do know, is if we play well, we can be right in there. I always say Just to give yourself a chance at the end. Its not going to be any surprises on the golf course to us. We know what we need to hit on every hole.
Jakob Rudosky, who medaled at the M-CHS Invitational (Aug. 22) and Durango Invitational (Sept. 11), feel he and his teammates have an advantage of playing at a course similar to Conquistador.
Itll be a really good course for us, said Jakob Rudosky, a Dolores High junior. All of us have played this course 20-something times. We know it just like our home course.
With five par-5 holes, Cobble Creek indeed plays long. But the Montrose course does have its advantages.
That opens it up for more scoring. That definitely allows for more birdies and eagles to happen, said Hayden Plewe, a Dolores sophomore.
The par 4s are pretty short. Most of us hit it pretty long, so we can hit the par 5s in twos. Short little wedges into the par 4s and that definitely helps us a lot, Jakob Rudosky added. We just need to work on our putting and chipping.
Keith Hawkins drove the ball well at regionals in what was his best performance of the season, shooting 75. But the senior also struggled with his short game. Hawkins looks to improve that for his final high school tournament.
Last year, I played all right at state. But this year, Im really hoping to go low, he said. You can go low. It (Cobble Creek) is a course you can definitely make birdies on it. Im hoping we take it home. Were going to have to really battle.
Tristan Shelby is making his state debut for the Panthers. If there wasnt any more added pressure, the sophomore will be the first to tee off for his team Monday morning.
Im really nervous to go. But its going to be a good experience, Shelby said. I just need to keep working at what Im doing and getting better. I just want to keep up with the team. Just stay where they are.
Shelby has experience at Cobble Creek as well.
I like the course, but its one of those courses where you have to be hitting it straight. If youre not, then youre done, he said.
The CHSAA 4A State Championships begin Monday with first tee at 9 a.m., as well as on Tuesday morning.
Check Cortezjournal.com for updates and read the Tuesday and Thursday editions for full recaps.