Durango girls golf dials in

By Ryan Owens Herald staff writer

Two.

That’s the number of golfers the Durango High School girls golf team sent to state last year. And with those two golfers – Lexi Whalen and Haleigh Lyon – back in the fold along with a fairly deep roster, DHS head coach Kirk Rawles thinks the Demons have what it takes to get as many if not more to Colorado’s top meet this year.

“I think we have the capability of getting at least two, and possibly four, so I think they have that ability to get there, and we’ve already seen that,” Rawles said.

Whalen, a four-year varsity player, returns for her senior season as a team captain, a role she said she’s taking every bit as seriously as her performance on the course. On the course, Rawles said he’s excited about the improvement Whalen’s made in regularly trimming her average scores over four years.

“Lexi has found a pretty good comfort level, so she’s got some consistency going on in her game,” Rawles said. “You know, a bad round for her now is low-90s, where that was kind of the norm a couple of years ago.”

Whalen, who’s consistently been in the low-90s or high-80s this season, said she thinks this group’s got the necessary skills to get multiple players to state once again.

“I feel like everyone on the team can shoot what I shot last year and make it to state,” said Whalen, daughter of Gary and Teri Whalen.

Last week’s Kirtland Central Invitational provided proof that DHS can hang low scores in tough conditions. Despite high winds, which have popped up at almost every tournament this spring for DHS, the Demons placed three golfers in the top 10. Whalen fired a 92 in tough conditions, while Haleigh Lyon and Natalie Lyon shot 93 and 94, respectively, a sign of what the Demons can accomplish when on their game.

Sophomore Brooke Kniffin, who fired a 99 on April 3 in Grand Junction and hopes to play her way to state, said she’s looking for better weather and consistent scores in the 90s. Unlike last year’s DHS Invitational, which had high winds and chilly temperatures, today’s forecast calls for sun and temperatures near 80 degrees.

“I’m hoping to shoot in the middle-90s, low-90s; hopefully as well the weather will be good,” said Kniffin, daughter of Rick and Kelly Kniffin.

Senior Jessi Wymore, a two-time state qualifier in volleyball, will hold down the fifth position today for the varsity, and Rawles said that she’s a couple of holes away from dialing in her game.

“She’ll have a couple of blowup holes, but she’s probably the hardest working golfer that we have,” he said.

Other players that have seen varsity time include Jessica Pohlman, Reiley Waldo and Amanda Rydiger, who’s hopeful she’ll dial in enough over the next couple of years to make a state run of her own.

“I’m a sophomore, and it’s only my second year playing, but I’m hoping to maybe, before graduation, be able to do,” said Rydiger, daughter of Bob and Ruth Rydiger.

For the first and only time this year, DHS will tee it up at home, taking to Hillcrest Golf Club today in the DHS Invitational. Joining the Demons at 10 a.m. will be Grand Junction, Grand Junction Central, Fruita Monument, Piedra Vista, Aztec, Kirtland Central and Shiprock.

rowens@durangoherald.com

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