AURORA — Davis Bryant broke away from a close field with a clutch back nine holes, and is now the Class 5A boys golf champion.
A year after finishing runner-up, the Eaglecrest senior claimed the 5A boys golf individual title on Tuesday with a two-day score of 3-under. He beat runner-ups Dillon Stewart of Fossil Ridge and Canon Olkowski of Grand Junction by three strokes.
"This is awesome," Bryant said after his round. "I've been waiting for this for a while."
Bryant parred each of his first 10 holes on Tuesday, then had back-to-back birdies to put himself in the lead. He played a bogey-free second round and hit 12 fairways.
"It was a grind out there," Bryant said. "The front nine, I couldn't get any putts to go in the hole."
Stewart entered the day as the first-round leader at 2-under, with Bryant, Olkowski and Regis Jesuit's Calvin McCoy knotted at 1-under.
Olkowski, Stewart and Bryant were grouped together on Tuesday, and they seemed to push one another. The trio, who have grown up playing against one another, each took turns atop the leaderboard at various points, and were all tied at 1-under through nine holes.
"I think the comfort level in the group definitely helped me," Bryant said. "I like playing with my friends, and that's fun. It made me feel a little bit more confident and relaxed out there on the course."
Stewart took the lead at 3-under after 11 holes. Olkowski, looking to become the first 5A champion from the Western Slope since 2000, notched an eagle on the 11th to get to 2-under. Bryant secured a birdie to go to 2-under.
Bryant then tied Stewart at 3-under with another birdie on the 12th.
"The one on 12 was unexpected," Bryant said. "That was kind of a hard putt. I'm glad that one went in. That helped."
Things stayed that way until the 15th when Olkowski and Stewart both bogeyed the hole. Those two also bogeyed the 16th. Bryant parred both holes, pushing his lead to three strokes.
"That was where I wanted to put the pedal down," Bryant said. "I wanted to make them make birdies to try and catch me."
Regis Jesuit claimed the team championships with a two-day total of 16-over. Cherry Creek (+23) was second, while Arapahoe and Grand Junction (+24) tied for third.
The Raiders got scoring rounds from seniors Calvin McCoy (+2), Cameron Kirke (+5) and Drew Anderson (+9).
This is the Raiders' third-straight team championship. They have now won seven of the past eight boys golf titles in 5A, and have finished at least runner-up for the past nine seasons.
"We had freshmen come out to watch today, and they're looking at Cal McCoy and Cameron Kirke and Drew Anderson, and they're saying, 'I want to be them,'" Regis Jesuit coach Craig Rogers said. "I think it prompts them and it calls them to want to work real hard to dedicate themselves to stepping in their footsteps and standing on their shoulders. Success does beget success. They see their dreams in front of them in a way.
"And that's the way these seniors were, and we've been able to keep it going," Rogers continued. "I couldn't be prouder of them."
Just as Cherry Creek, Arapahoe and Grand Junction seemed to be closing in down the stretch, Regis Jesuit's seniors steeled themselves and secured another title.
"They just handled their emotions their emotions so well, and stayed so steady," Rogers said. "They played the last three holes incredibly well."