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Durango girls golf finishes sixth at state

Demons battled tough Country Club of Colorado on Monday and Tuesday
Durango sophomore Jayden Craig putts during a round in the 4A State Championship at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Craig finished tied for 26th after play on Monday and Tuesday. (Courtesy Kirk Rawles)

The Durango girls golf team tested itself against the top golfers in 4A on Monday and Tuesday at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs in the 4A State Championships. The Demons finished sixth out of 15 schools with a team score of 553. Each team score was made up of each team’s four golfers’ scores from both days.

Erie dominated and won the team championship for the third straight year, this time by 60 shots with a team score of 460. Three of the top five golfers in the individual standings were from Erie. Holy Family finished second with a team score of 520 and Steamboat Springs was third with a team score of 526.

“The course was the toughest one we had run into all year,” Durango girls golf coach Kirk Rawles said. “It was pretty tough for almost all the teams that were there. But we fared pretty well. We were ranked 12th in the state coming in so to go in and get a sixth- place finish is pretty good.”

Rawles described the rough as being lush and thick. The rough combined with uncut hay could lead to high numbers, according to Rawles. He also said there was wind between 15-25 miles per hour over the exposed course on the first day.

Because of the conditions, Rawles said the course was playing five to 10 strokes higher than players have shot throughout the year.

Erie’s Logan Hale won her second consecutive individual championship with an even-par score of 142 over two days on the par 71 course. Hale won by 16 shots over second-place Macy Kleve of Windsor.

Durango junior Ellie White was the top Demons finisher with a score of 178 which was tied for 18th. White received All-State honors, which all golfers get inside the top 20. White shot a 93 on Monday and an 85 on Tuesday.

“She did struggle the first day,” Rawles said about White. “She actually hit a lot of fairways but she might’ve hit an iron a little bit too long or off the mark and found herself in a spot that was really difficult to get up and down.”

Rawles said the greens at the Country Club of Colorado were huge and undulating which factored into some players’ struggles. He was proud of how White stayed in it and found the tricks of the course on Tuesday. She finished the second round with a 38 on the back nine.

After a tough first round at the 4A State Championships, the Durango girls golf team finds some comedic relief posing with The Meltdown ice cream truck. (Courtesy Kirk Rawles)

Durango sophomore Jayden Craig was the second-best Demon finisher with a score of 185 and finished tied for 28th.

Craig was one of the few golfers who had their best score in the first round. She shot an 88 on the first day and a 97 on the final day.

Rawles said Craig did a good job keeping it in play the first day and if she put better she had a chance of breaking 80. Unfortunately, Craig struggled more off the tee in the second round and found some trouble. Rawles commended Craig for her first round and said it was one of the better rounds she played this year even in tough conditions.

Durango junior Ramiee Brant finished tied for 36th with a score of 190. She shot a 100 in the first round and a 90 in the second round. Brant played well on the first day except for an 11 on a par 4 and a big number on another hole. Rawles was proud of how Brandt bounced back the second day with a par on the same hole she had an 11 on the previous day.

Demons freshman Dylan Livingston struggled the most in the challenging conditions and finished 76th with a 221. She shot 116 on the first day and a 105 on the second day.

“She will learn from that and will look to build off it for next year,” Rawles said about Livingston’s performance. “I was really proud of her. She was grinding it out to the very end and just wanted to get a better score than her first day and she did.”

Rawles compared Livingston’s play to former Durango girls golfer Lilly Tichi who shot a 109 at state on the same course her freshman year. Tichi then went to state all four years and was the first Demons girls golfer to break 80 in back-to-back tournaments.

The season for Durango was a success for Rawles because the Demons lost two of their top players from their second-place team at state last year. Despite those losses, Livingston and Brant stepped up and have a lot of potential according to Rawles. White and Craig continue to improve.

Next season, the Demons won’t lose any of their top four players and Durango could contend at the top of 4A.

“I'm really optimistic,” Rawles said about contending next year. “We can make that next step and we're going to have a solid core of players going into next year. You need four solid players for it to happen. I'm excited and I’m excited for them.”