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Four Durango golfers qualify for state

Demons will travel to Country Club of Colorado next week for state
Durango girls golfer sophomore Jayden Craig hits her approach shot to hole 18 at the 4A Girls Region 4 Regional Championship at Foothills Golf Course in Denver on Tuesday. Craig led the Demons with a career-best 80 tied for sixth place. (Courtesy Kirk Rawles)

The Durango girls golf team had a successful trip to Foothills Golf Club in Denver on Tuesday. The Demons finished fourth as a team in the 4A Girls Region 4 Regional Championship and Durango had four golfers qualify for the state championship.

“That was our goal for each of the players hit their handicap if you will, for the year,” Durango girls golf coach Kirk Rawles said. “Then we figured, looking at the field and where we're at, if they could all hit their numbers then we'd be okay. They all pretty much hit their numbers.”

Rawles described Foothills as a traditional golf course similar to Conquistador in Cortez except the rough is lush at Foothills. He said the greens are small and hard to figure out.

Erie won the regional with a team score of 217, comprising the top three golfers’ scores on each team. Mullen finished tied second with Steamboat Springs with a team score of 251. The Demons were right behind in fourth with a team score of 252.

The top two teams in the regional get to send their top four golfers to state. After those eight players, the top 13 remaining players make it to state. If a school gets three or four players in those remaining 13 spots, that school gets a team score at state.

Durango had a good showing with sophomore Jayden Craig tied sixth with an 80. Junior Ellie White finished tied 11th with an 84. Junior Raimee Brandt finished 15th with an 88 and freshman Dylan Livingston finished 18th with a 91.

Because of these scores, the Demons can send those four golfers to state and they can get a team score.

Craig’s 80 was her best round in high school competition. Rawles said with only four athletes and two coaches there, he was able to guide the Demons athletes if they were in trouble on the course.

“I really liked her focus today,” Rawles said about Craig. “She just got into the zone and focused on every shot and the swing was working. We've all been there where some days it's not working. She hit driver really well so she got herself in a good position. She put really well yesterday. She made a 25-footer for birdie on a par 3. If she got close to being in trouble, she was able to get out of trouble without any huge scores.”

Livingston had an up-and-down round for Durango. She holed out from 105 yards for a birdie on a par 5. Unfortunately, Livingston had two holes where she had big scores which ruined her score card.

White was paired with the winner of the regional, Logan Hale from Erie, who finished with a 6-under 66. Rawles was proud of how White started her round and was playing very well compared to Hale. White did have some trouble with her short game out of the heavy rough which put her score at an 84.

Rawles said he was impressed with Brandt’s ball striking in the practice round on Monday and in competition on Tuesday. The key for her going forward is her confidence level, according to Rawles.

The Demons will head to Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs for the 4A State Championship on Monday and Tuesday.

Rawles said it’s a tough course that requires length off the tee which the Demons have. He said the key will be how fast his team can figure out the slope and the speed of the greens.

After finishing second at state last year, Rawles thinks Erie is head and shoulders above everyone else but if Durango plays well, it can compete for another second-place finish as a team.