5A boys golf: Clutch putt gives Lucas Schulte and Valor Christian championships

ARVADA – He didn’t know it at the time, but Lucas Schulte captured one of the biggest moments in Colorado high school boys golf history on Tuesday.

On the final hole of his two-round state tournament at The Club at Rolling Hills, the Valor Christian senior sank a seven-foot putt to make eagle on the par-5 18th. The emphatically clutch finish capped an excellent 1-over day to wrap up his prep career.

Schulte was thrilled to go out the way he did.

(Brad Cochi)

He was even more thrilled when he found out afterwards the eagle ended up winning him the Class 5A individual championship and also clinched the team title for the Eagles.

“It’s special,” Schulte said. “The individual title is really special, obviously. But the team, we got fourth in league and I have to admit I was on the fence about our chances even though one of our teammates, Jack Armstrong, was super confident. All of our guys played really well and when that putt went in, I was shaking pretty good because I knew we might have a chance.”

Schulte didn’t win an event all season until Tuesday and never led throughout the state tournament. That lead largely belonged to Arapahoe senior Graham Dzengelewski, who eagled the first hole of the tournament on Monday and was the frontrunner the rest of the way until he made a double bogey on the par-4 16th of Day 2.

In a close home stretch that at one point included a three-way tie for the lead, Schulte’s dagger eagle putt and 72 were just enough to hold off late charges from Ralston Valley senior Trey Kirschner and Regis Jesuit senior Ryan Occhionero, who shot 69 and 70, respectively, to tie for second place.

The team title was also settled by Valor Christian chasing down Arapahoe with the latter leading after a brutally windy first day.

Down three strokes with two holes to play, the Eagles had two players on the course after junior Jack Armstrong had come in earlier with a tone-setting round of 74. Sophomore Colin Young had to punch his ball out of the trees on No. 18 but was able to get up and down for birdie and card a 78 and set up Schulte’s winning eagle.

That big point swing allowed the Eagles to win with a final team score of 452, which was just two strokes ahead of Arapahoe.

“I shared with them after our practice round that the team that is OK with not always being OK is going to manage to get through the rest of the round,” Valor Christian head coach Justen Byler said. “These are difficult greens and these are difficult courses they put you on for the state championship. I think it’s important to point out, too, that the Jeffco League is phenomenally competitive and playing some of the best teams in the state every week really has prepared us for moments like these.

“I’m super proud of our guys because they managed to have a lot of resolve and grind their way through. We had all four of the guys score at some point this weekend and as a result, a team truly won. Wow, what a special moment.”

Led by Occhionero, the Regis Jesuit boys made a Day 2 charge to finish third in the team competition after opening the final round in ninth place. Ralston Valley moved up four spots on the second day to finish fourth and Rock Canyon was fifth.

Individually, Prairie View’s Jeff Nelson, as well as Pine Creek’s Wesley Erling and Dzengelewski, who were tied for the lead after Day 1, finished in the three-way tie for fourth place.

(Brad Cochi)