Strength in numbers has characterized the Montezuma-Cortez boys golf team’s success this season, perhaps no more so than in their biggest tournament so far this season.
The Panthers navigated their way through the tricky, narrow track at Cattails Golf Course in Alamosa, earning third place among the 3A Region 1 field to earn qualification to the state tournament for the program’s fifth consecutive year. While the Panthers fell just short of the top two automatic team qualifying spots, the depth for head coach Todd Plewe’s Panthers more than made sure that the Panthers will field a full team in Windson in early October.
All four Panthers finished within eight strokes of one another, led by junior Vince Lopez’s ninth-place finish, to assure that all four competitors landed in individual qualifying spots.
Accustomed to being near the top of the leader board, the Panthers looked like a composed team with plenty of big tournament experience.
Lopez led the tightly packed Panthers by firing an eight-over-par 79 to once again pace the way for the squad, ensuring him a third trip to the state tournament.
Meanwhile, senior Airoughn Morris played a consistent round to earn his second individual appearance to the 36-hole championship event, coming in a tie for 12th with a +12 round of 83.
Junior Gavin Frost will make his state debut in a couple weeks, having enjoyed a solid season and a regional round of 85 (+14), good for a tie for 14th.
Senior Kaden Huff rounded out the Panther performances, coming in 16th with an 87 on the card, well within the qualifying group. Huff will cap his high school career making four state appearances in four tries.
“This is a great accomplishment for these players,” said the third-year head coach. “They’re all deserving state qualifiers.”
A team total of 247 (+34) aided the Panthers to their bronze medal finish as a team, behind regional champions Kent Denver and Monte Vista, who finished tied at 234 (+21) to claim the two available team automatic qualifying spots.
Pagosa Springs sophomore Johnathon Smith ran away with the individual regional title, taking medalist honors by seven strokes with a two-under-par round of 69.
A newly constructed golf course awaits the Panthers and the 84-player field on Oct. 2-3 in Windsor. RainDance National Resort and Golf Club will host its first state tournament for the 3A championships, with a 36-hole event pitting M-CHS against the state’s best teams for the fifth straight year.
“Our team looks forward to playing well and having fun when we go to state,” added Plewe.