LITTLETON — A 7:30 a.m. shotgun start for the second boys golf Jeffco League tournament Tuesday morning allowed golfers to avoid temperatures the 90s at Deer Creek Golf Club.
The defending Class 5A Jeffco League medalist — Lakewood junior Ryan Liao — actually wasn’t at the second conference tournament of the season. Liao was in New Jersey playing in the KJ Choi Foundation Junior Championship.
Lakewood is primed to be in contention for high individual and team accolades this fall. Liao is back after placing fourth at state last season. The Tigers finished second at state in the team standings, five shots behind Fossil Ridge.
“We are really driving toward that state championship,” Liao said during the CHSAA Media Day on Aug. 9. “We want to get Coach G (Alan Gonzales) one. He deserves one. That is the main goal for us.”
Lakewood coach Alan Gonzales has guided the most consistent boys golf program in Jeffco for the past several years. The Tigers placed second in the 5A state tournament in 2014, 2015 and 2018 to go along with a third-place finish in 2016.
Lakewood sophomore Max Lange won the first medalist title in the opening Jeffco League tournament Aug. 12 at Applewood Golf Course. Lange shot a round of 65 for a six-shot victory. Lakewood junior Noah DiBiase and sophomore Jace Wright gives the Tigers a legitimate shot at the program’s first team title.
“My team has really stepped up their game. It relieves a lot of pressure on my part,” Liao said. “Of course I want to go for the (5A Jeffco League individual medalist) again, but the main thing is the team.”
Ralston Valley and Valor Christian will likely be right on the Tigers’ heels in the race for the conference title that concludes with the final league tournament Sept. 17 at the Broadlands.
On the 4A side, Evergreen will be the favorite with senior Clayton Whitton leading the way for the Cougars. Jake Dekoker and Jack Mitchell gives Evergreen not only a chance for another conference team title, but a chance to be in the mix for the 4A state title.
Conifer junior Dakota Dolph and Green Mountain sophomore Ollie Gibbons — both finished in the top-20 at the 4A state tournament last season — look to break into the top-10 in 2019.