ARVADA — The final Jeffco League boys golf tournament of the season had a very different feel than normal Monday afternoon at West Woods Golf Club in Arvada.
There was no final gathering of Class 5A and 4A Jeffco teams to hand out individual all-conference awards and league team titles due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, golfers were able to successfully finish off the final Jeffco League tournament of the season.
“I’m very pleased with how it turned out,” Ralston Valley boys golf coach Jeff Wasinger said. “There is a little letdown at the end of the tournament, even today. You finish your round, turn in your scorecard electrically and then go home. But we were allowed to play and actually had a season.”
Ralston Valley wrapped up the 5A Jeffco League team title with the strong team of seniors Jack Larson, Trey Kirschner, junior Gage Messingham, along with sophomores Jordan McCaslin and Logan Forister. Messingham clinched the overall individual medalist title with a 4-under-par, 68.
Messingham edged Lakewood senior Ryan Liao by two strokes over the five league tournaments.
“It means a lot,” Messingham said of the Mustangs winning the league title. “Last year we couldn’t do it, but this year our team played really well throughout the season and pulled it off.”
The Mustangs were able to hold off Lakewood thanks to Messingham and Kirschner both finishing in a three-way tie for second with round of 68. Liao also shot a 68. Larson fired an even-par, 72 to finished tied for sixth.
“It’s a feel good thing. We set that out as a goal,” Wasinger said of Ralston Valley winning the league team title. “We knew we had a good team and it was kind of building over the years.”
The 5A Jeffco League proved to be one of the strongest conferences in the state. In fact, a round in the 60s was shot during each of the five league tournaments. Arvada West senior Tyler Tyson, Columbine senior Drex Duffy, Lakewood junior Max Lange, Liao Messingham, Larson and Kirschner were the seven individuals who all had at least one round in the 60s this season during league play.
“They are opening peoples’ eyes,” Wasinger said of the play of the top 5A Jeffco players this Fall. “Jeffco golf really has some powerful teams and impressive players. Going into regionals there is no reason to fear anybody.”
Ralston Valley will host the 5A Western Regional on Monday, Sept. 21, at Raccoon Creek Golf Course in Littleton.
“Of course we have to focus on regionals and qualifying as a team,” Messingham said. “Hopefully we win state. It is at a course we all know. Hopefully we can pull it off.”
The 5A state tournament will be Oct. 5 and 6 at The Club in Rolling Hills in Golden.
Lange — last year’s 5A Jeffco individual medalist — won the final league tournament with a 5-under-par, 67 at West Woods. The Lakewood junior will enter the 5A Central Regionals at Overland Golf Course on Wednesday, Sept. 23, coming off back-to-back tournament wins with rounds of 68 and 67 to close out league play.
“I didn’t have the greatest league season,” admitted Lange, who shot a 75 and 77 in his first two league tournaments. “I wish I would have shot 10-under today, but I’m not too disappointed with 5-under.”
Lange is excited about the location of the 5A state tournament in three weeks.
“I’m going to try to finish (regionals and state) how I finished my league season,” Lange said. “State will be at my home course at Rolling Hills. I play there every day.”
Liao — 5A Jeffco individual medalist as a freshman and sophomore — finished just behind Messingham for the title this season. The Lakewood senior has had back-to-back Top-4 finishes at the state tournament that past two years.
With Liao’s history, he is very capable of contending with a number of other strong Jeffco players at state coming up the first week of October.
“I was actually honestly expecting this low of golf scores last year,” Liao said of Jeffco. “Everyone had the talent last year. No one was really playing that well. Now this year everyone is playing to what they are supposed to and it’s looking good.”
Liao is one of the longest hitting players in the state and he has some wishes for the setup at Rolling Hills in a few weeks.
“I hope they play it longer to make it a little tougher,” Liao said. “I know the greens will be tough. Overall it’s a great course.”
On the 4A Jeffco side, Evergreen captured the team title. Senior Jack Mitchell led the Cougars winning the final 4A Jeffco League tournament with a 2-over-par, 74.
Green Mountain senior Oliver Gibbons just edged Conifer senior Dakota Dolph for the overall individual medalist title by a single stroke over the five tournaments. Gibbons shot a 76 and Dolph had a 77 on Monday at West Woods. Gibbons and Dolph entered the final conference tournament with identical 9-hole averages of 37.83 strokes.
No matter what happens at regionals and state. Jeffco can say it completed a success conference season that might have looked a bit different.
“We’ve got to be grateful that CHSAA gave this opportunity to us and we’ve had to adhere to the safety protocols that have been set. We didn’t want to mess it up,” Wasinger said. “CHSAA gave us a gift and we took it as a privilege.”