Coming off an eighth-place finish in the 2020 3A State Championships, the Panthers enter the fall with the confidence of a squad that has established itself as one of the premier programs in the classification.
Montezuma-Cortez High School’s mix of returning veterans and fresh faces have the Panthers poised to finish near the top of the leaderboard throughout the season.
Under second-year head coach Todd Plewe, M-CHS continues to draw players out to the program, lifelong and newer golfers. Over a dozen student-athletes will don the orange-and-black for the Panthers this fall, a sign that pleases the head coach.
“We’ve had a great junior golf program in this community,” said Plewe, “and we know that the depth of this team is testament to the community support of the high school program.”
Junior Thayer Plewe headlines the returners for the Panthers, the defending state runner-up from his sophomore year. Plewe battled neck-and-neck with Nic Pevny of Aspen in the final round of last year’s championships, and has his sights set on challenging for the individual title again.
“We’ve got a really good team,” said Plewe, “so we know we can do some really good things this year.”
As for his own game, Plewe knows that his countless hours on Conquistador Golf Course will pay dividends this year.
“I’ve been really working on my short game,” he added, “and I’m hoping that my game from 100 yards and in will help me get ready for the big tournaments.”
The Panthers also return state qualifier Kaden Huff, a sophomore, as one of the leaders for this year’s squad. Significant time on the course this summer has Huff ready to take the next steps to get back to the state championships. “Playing in the state tournament was a great learning experience,” said Huff, “and the whole team’s focus is on improving throughout the year so that way we can get back there again.”
A pair of newcomers, freshman Vince Lopez and senior transfer Ryan Sanders, appear poised to make an immediate impact for the Panthers. “I definitely want to contribute what I can to this team,” said Sanders, “knowing that this team has had a strong program.”
Add to the mix a number of Panthers hungry for positions on the varsity squad, M-CHS enters the fall season as one of the deepest teams in the region.
M-CHS finished just 15 strokes away from a top five finish at last year’s state tournament, and the team-based focus from Coach Plewe has his players honing in on the mental aspect of their game.
“This is a difficult sport,” said the coach, “in which you can only control how you play and you handle the challenges within each round. Regardless how the round is going, we want our young men to be able to focus on making every moment important.”
“Golf is a game of life experiences,” added Huff, “and even when you struggle, there are things that you’re going to take from it.”
“Every stroke matters, and every person on the team matters,” said Thayer Plewe, “and I want this program to built around those principles.”
Montezuma-Cortez’s Thayer Plewe won the individual title at Cobble Creek this week, leading the Panthers to a third-place finish. Plewe sunk five birdies and only had one bogie to finish with a 68 and win the crown.
The Panthers also have posted a dual victory over Pagosa Springs during their early season competitions, but have their sights set on their home invitational, set for Sept. 2 at Conquistador Golf Course.
M-CHS also landed the honor of hosting the 3A regional tournament three weeks later, with the 18-hole competition set for Saturday, Sept. 21. Top team and individual performers from the regional tournament will move on to 3A State Championships at Spring Valley Golf Club in Elizabeth on Oct. 4-5.