Lauren Lehigh knows the feeling that comes with being a state golf champion. Two years ago she held off one of her own teammates as well as Glenwood Springs' Lauren Murphy to capture Class 4A gold.
Loveland also claimed the team title that year.
Last year a repeat attempt failed as Cheyenne Mountain's Maxine Choi took first at the Country Club of Colorado. Windsor claimed the team title.
Now Lehigh is out to once again put Loveland back on top of the golf scene (the team is back in 5A this year) and this time, her younger sister will lend a helping hand.
Katelyn is a freshman and has the potential to be every bit as much in the individual championship picture in the coming years. But where she's been the biggest help to the team has been keeping the veterans, including her older sister, competitive through the year.
"We put up with each other all day then we got to the golf course and compete which is a lot of fun," Lauren said. "We push each other to do better. It's been a fun change."
But along with that change has come some hope that they can do something together that they'll only get one shot at.
As a senior, Lauren is trying to lead Loveland to its second state title in three years. To do it with family would be something truly special and it's something that's been talked about quite a bit between the two of them.
"We knew it coming in and it's always in the back of our minds," Katelyn said. "Since (state) is at our home course, we have a very good chance of winning. Even Lauren has said it, she doesn't want the individual title as much as she wants the team title with me."
That just means each player needs to do their part. Lauren has been outstanding all year. She has yet to play a round in which she has finished over par. Her season-best came in at the Lobo Invite at the Harmony Club. She shot a 6-under-par 66 and hit a hole-in-one on her second hole of the day — the par-3 sixth.
It helps that Taylor Bandemer also returns from last year's team. Bandemer finished fifth at state last year.
But it's been the addition of Katelyn that has added a ton of excitement with the team. While Loveland coach Bill Stephens can certainly see a bit of sibling rivalry play out on the course at times, the additional emotional support has been the biggest impact he's seen.
"They're more supporting than competitive with each other," Stephens said. "Out on the course, if one of them has a little bit of a downturn in their game, the other will start yelling out in support. They're usually close enough in tournaments that they can see each other."
And they keep each other sharp. There's enough internal competition between the Loveland players that little games played in practice force everyone to remain sharp through the course of the season.
"Nothing can just be for fun out there for us," Lauren said. "There always has to be some kind of competition whether it's a putting contest or chipping contest. It brings a new level to the game."
Next up for Loveland is the third Front Range League Tournament of the year at Coal Creek Golf Course.