COLORADO SPRINGS — A weekend snow storm may have disrupted recreational golfers in Colorado Springs, but Kellsey Sample didn't lose a step.
The Palmer Ridge senior shot a 3-over-par 74 on Monday to come away as the winner of the Cheyenne Mountain Invite at the Country Club of Colorado.
She found herself in a tight battle with Sarah Hwang from St. Mary's, who was in her grouping for the round. Sample fell behind early with bogeys on No. 2 and No. 4, the two par 5 holes on the front nine. She was able to par the rest of the way out.
Hwang rattled off eight straight pars to start her round, but took a double-bogey on No. 9 to make the turn tied with Sample.
Six consecutive pars to start the back nine helped Sample grab a lead and a birdie on 16 gave her every bit of momentum she needed.
But back-to-back bogeys to end the round gave her some pause for concern.
"I'm excited and obviously I love winning," Sample said. "But I feel like I could've better which is good especially with postseason coming up."
She committed the same gaff on her final two holes. She put a lot of power behind two long putts that blew by the cup, giving her tougher looks for par than what she would have wanted.
Sample finished in a tie for 10th at last year's state tournament but is playing well enough to put herself in contention for a title later this month.
Air Academy brought home the team title, shooting a collective 273 on the day, one stroke better than Pine Creek and Cheyenne Mountain. The Eagles officially took second place with the tiebreaker.
"I think it's going to be a great confidence booster," Air Academy coach Jim Cole said. "The best we've finished so far is second at one of our conference tournaments. (The girls) are going to be very pleased with this."
And they were. As scores were posted outside of the pro shop, Isabell Deak, Paige Langum, Taylor Martinez and Maddie Stewart watched in a mix of shock and joy that their team score bettered Pine Creek and Cheyenne Mountain - the defending Class 4A state runner-up.
"This is a such a rise from the last few years," Deak said. "I think it makes us all confident and excited to see what the future holds with the possibility of state."
Deak led the Kadets with a 86 overall. Martinez shot a 89 and Langum ended with a 98. Langum shot 50 on the front and was two strokes better on the back which turned out to be the difference maker.
The host Indians are another team hoping to improve from their final standing last year. Cheyenne Mountain finished in second as a team at state, and the Indians know that they just have to put together quality rounds in the coming weeks.
"For the team it's really about us playing the golf I know that we're capable of," senior Casey Fetters said. "I think I played well today which is a good sign going into regionals, I just think we need to all play up to our potential."
Fetters placed fourth individually behind Sample, Hwang and Pine Creek's Elly Carlson. It was the seventh top-10 finish for the Cheyenne Mountain senior.
Regional tournaments will take place next week and will set the field for the 2017 state tournaments.