Jefferson Academy's Kupcho out to help girls golf team reach state tourney

Jennifer Kupcho of Jefferson Academy. (Courtesy of Mike Kupcho)

Jennifer Kupcho was last season's 4A girls golf individual championship, but is after a team title this season. (Courtesy of Mike Kupcho)

This season isn’t about chasing a state girls golf title for Jennifer Kupcho.

The senior from Jefferson Academy won top Class 4A honors last year.

Kupcho isn’t pursing a college scholarship, either. She signed a letter-of-intent with Wake Forest in November.

Instead with her future set, Kupcho is focusing on the present – her final high school season which began Thursday.

“I know I won (state), but I want to get our team to state for the first time in my four years, and hopefully we can give that a run,” Kupcho, 17, said. “That’s my overall goal right now and for sure I want to win state again.”

Kupcho’s best round came at the Colorado Open in August when she fired a 66 at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club.

“I would say her strongest part is her driving and her irons,” said Mike Kupcho, Jennifer’s father, and coach. “Her short game has really improved, but she loves to hit driver and she loves to hit greens.”

Jennifer Kupcho coasted to her first state crown a year ago at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Kupcho shot a 2-over-par 146. Valor Christian’s Andrea Ballou was second with a 160 total.

“During my freshman and sophomore years, I was kind of emotional out there (on the course),” said the 5-foot-8 Kupcho, who plans on majoring in business at Wake Forest. “I’ve grown up and figured out how to calm myself down if I make a bad shot, and just do what I need to do to get the job done. I just look at the rating of the course and the difficulty, and I decide what I’m going to shoot that day, and I try and do my best with that goal.”

In 2013, at the Class 4A state tourney Kupcho was runner-up to Montrose’s Kala Keltz by two strokes.

According to the elder Kupcho, his daughter began playing golf at age 5.

Jennifer Kupcho of Jefferson Academy. (Courtesy of Mike Kupcho)

Kupcho has signed with Wake Forest. (Courtesy of Mike Kupcho)

“She is just very mentally tough,” coach Kupcho said. “She tunes stuff out and goes after her goals. She isn’t scoreboard watching.”

Kupcho is joined in the Jefferson Academy lineup with fellow all-state selection Mariah Ehrman, who signed with Colorado Mesa University. Ehrman finished ninth in state last season.

“They just want to finish their high school careers really strong and they want our team to get to state,” coach Kupcho said.

Team-wise, Cheyenne Mountain will take aim at winning its third consecutive state championship. In 5A, Regis also will look to win another state title.

Kupcho has ambitions one day of competing on the LPGA Tour.

“I want to play four years in college and then go pro,” Kupcho said. “If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but I want to try and be a pro.”

Girls golf preview

Class 5A

  • Defending individual champion: Michelle Romano, Rock Canyon (graduated)
  • Defending state champion: Regis Jesuit
  • Regular season begins: Feb. 26
  • Regional tournaments: May 4-8
  • State tournament: May 18-19, The Olde Course, Loveland
  • Returning all-state golfers: Sydney Gillespie, Sr., Regis Jesuit (1st); Sarah Hunt, Sr., Denver East (1st); Anna Kennedy, Sr., Legend (1st); Ashlyn Kirschner, Sr., Ralston Valley (1st);  Sydney Merchant, Jr., Dakota Ridge (1st); Morgan Sahm, Jr., Grandview (1st); Erin Sargent, Jr., Skyline (1st); Mary Weinstein, Jr., Regis Jesuit (1st).

Class 4A

  • Defending individual champion: Jennifer Kupcho, Sr., Jefferson Academy
  • Defending state champion: Cheyenne Mountain
  • Regular season begins: Feb. 26
  • Regional tournaments: May 4-8
  • State tournament: May 18-19, River Valley Ranch, Carbondale
  • Returning all-state players: Leah Donnelly, Jr., Wheat Ridge (1st); Mariah Ehrman, Sr., Jefferson Academy (1st); Courtney Ewing, Sr., Pueblo West (1st); Tori Goodman, Sr., Falcon; (1st);  Jennifer Kupcho, Sr., Jefferson Academy (1st); Kiselya Plewe, Jr., Dolores (1st); Emilee Strausburg, Sr., D’Evelyn (1st).