AURORA — At Regis Jesuit High School, there’s a wall of fame. Mary Weinstein was hoping she could earn her place on it Tuesday.
“You have to place top-5 at state in your sport,” she said. “I hadn’t done it in the past, but I finally got my picture today.”
During the final round of her career on the second day of the Class 5A girls golf state tournament at CommonGround Golf Course, Weinstein was not only a top-5 finisher in 5A, she was the class of the state tournament, becoming the first individual in school history to win a girls golf state championship. The senior finished her 36 holes at a four-under total of 140 (71, 69), beating Grandview freshman Amy Chitkoksoong by four shots.
“Regis is an amazing school where we excel in a lot of sports,” said Weinstein, a Regis University recruit. “To be the first one to win a golf tournament for the girls, it’s a great feeling. I’m just really glad I get to represent Regis in the way that I can through golf.”
The only one to shoot in the red on Monday in less than optimal conditions with a one-under 71, Weinstein carried a four-shot lead over Monarch’s Delaney Elliott, Ralston Valley’s Jordan Remley and Grandview’s Morgan Sahm after day one.
Her and Sahm, paired in the final round together with Remley, have trained with one another since the start of their teenage years. Having a friend to compete side-by-side with seemed to help Weinstein relax — as did an early birdie and eagle.
“I think I just stayed calm all day and mentally positive,” she said. “I knew that I had to keep it low to stay where I was. I needed a couple birdies under my belt and once I got that going I felt pretty relaxed.”
Back-to-back pars then led to a birdie on hole No. 3. Then, on No. 5, she had an eagle on a par 5. With two more birdies on the back nine, with only two bogeys overall on the day, Weinstein was in control throughout the two-day state tournament as a senior after finishing in a tie for seventh as a junior, a tie for 10th as a sophomore and a tie for 16th as a freshman.
Despite Weinstein’s individual prowess, the Raiders saw an eight-stroke lead after day one evaporate as a changing of the guard occurred — two-time defending champion Regis was overtaken by Grandview, a school about three miles from Regis in Aurora.
The Raiders shot 230 Monday, while the Wolves were in second at 238. But superb play by the tandem of Chitkoksoong and Sahm, a senior who finished third at 148 (75, 73), allowed Grandview to chip into the lead and eventually overtake Regis on the way to their first-ever state championship in girls golf.
Chitkoksoong, Sahm and sophomore Caitlin O’Donnell (83) had a combined total of 224 on Tuesday, 10 lower than Regis, as they secured a two-stroke victory. Arvada West was third with 479 points at 47-over.
“I’m just so proud of the girls to come back from eight strokes this morning,” veteran Grandview coach Mary Danielson said. “We knew it was going to be hard, but they just played lights out. From day one we knew we wanted to win a state championship. I think we believed in ourselves enough to do that.”
Chitkoksoong, one of only two players along with Weinstein to shoot under 70 on Tuesday, had the best score of the day at 68. A back nine of 33 during her opening round pulled the first-year into a tie for fifth with Regis Jesuit’s Jaclyn Murray. And the way she closed Monday in style — an eagle on No. 18 — helped carry her into a confident Tuesday and runner-up finish.
“I didn’t think that was going to go in, to be honest,” she said of the eagle on a par 5. “My second shot I was just trying to get it somewhere on the green. When I walked up and saw it pretty close to the pin I had to make sure I putted it like any other and it dropped. After finishing that nine two-under, that really was a confidence booster right there.”
Chitkoksoong had four birdies in a row on holes 3 through 6 in round two. She also shot 34 on both the front and the back nine.
“I’m really glad she’s on Grandview,” Danielson said. “Freshman, we knew she was coming and we knew she was going to be strong. She just works her tail off to get better every day. She was matched up with Morgan Sahm, whose been our leader for four years. It was a great combination.”
Regis countered with Jaclyn Murray, who finished seventh at 11-over. The third golfers for each team, O’Donnell (26-over, 30th) and Ali Timlin (27-over, 32nd), were also near one another on the leaderboard, but O’Donnell did her part in the top-30.
“Caitlin O’Donnell really came through today,” Danielson said. “That’s really where it lands. It’s a team effort completely.”
“I’m so happy and so proud of my team,” Sahm added. “It just couldn’t have been a better way to end my golf career at Grandview.”
Grandview has now won 10 state championships in school history, nine in girls sports and one in boys. Chitkoksoong thinks they are just getting started. Chitkoksoong, O’Donnell and freshman Morgan Ryan (35-over, 51st) all return. Sahm will take her talents to the University of Northern Colorado next year and will leave a hole near the top of the lineup. But Grandview seems poised to contend in 2017.
“We just got the trophy,” Chitkoksoong said. “I don’t think we’re going to hand it back any time soon.”