Durango girls golf team swings into new season

DHS places second at Chipeta Kick Off Classic

Durango High School freshman Jayden Craig takes her first varsity swing for the Demons on Monday. Craig finished 13th with a 78, helping DHS place second as a team at the 2023 Chipeta Kick Off in Grand Junction. (Courtesy Kirk Rawles)

After swinging their clubs in the gym, the wrestling room and golf simulators, the Durango High School girls’ golf team played outside for one of the first times this season Monday at the Chipeta Kick Off Classic, held at the Chipeta Golf Course in Grand Junction.

“They were excited to get on grass,” said DHS head coach Kirk Rawles. “It’s a par 59, so it’s a short course. It’s mostly par-3s with a few short par-4s, so it’s a good place to start and an easy course to walk.”

The coach said the team went down to Farmington once to practice and a few athletes played on outside courses on their own, but the competition was only the second time the team had played outside together this spring season.

Many of the tournament’s 10 teams were in a similar situation. DHS, however, proved it was ready to compete out of the gates and finished second in the team competition. Mountain Vista, which placed fifth in the Class 5A state tournament last year, won with a 201 team score. Durango shot a 226 to take silver, followed by Palisade (243), Fruita Monument (244), Montrose (250), Battle Mountain (254), Steamboat Springs (275), Glenwood Springs (277), Rifle (298) and Aspen (303).

Senior Zayda Maestas shot a 72 to finish seventh out of the tournament’s 60 golfers and lead DHS.

Senior Natasha Walcott shot a 76 to place 11th.

Freshman Jayden Craig shot for par on her first high school varsity hole and kept it up to place 13th with a 78 and round out the team score. “Hopping into that environment can be tough, but she just stepped up,” Rawles said.

Three other Demons also competed. Claire Paul shot an 85, Avery Rike shot a 90 and Eliza Bosmans finished with a 94.

Kaitlyn Grommeck of Steamboat Springs and Abby Aeschleman of Mountain Vista tied for first at 64.

“I think we did a great job getting out there and shaking off the cobwebs,” Rawles said. He said putting on the heavily sloped greens was the toughest thing for the Demons to handle, but their full swings looked good.

“We’ve been doing full swings, but it’s hard to simulate putting,” Rawles said. “Full-swing wise, everybody was swinging well and hitting the ball well for the first time out.”

The team will now have a little break before its next competition March 27 at the Riverview Golf Course in Kirtland, New Mexico.

DHS will host a home tournament April 17 at the Hillcrest Golf Club, the day before Montezuma Cortez hosts its tournament, allowing teams from the Front Range to play in two tournaments in one trip. Regionals will be held May 22 at Book Cliff in Grand Junction and the state championships will be held May 20 at the Thorn Creek golf course in Thornton.

Rawles also expected Ellie White, who was competing with DHS at the state basketball tournament, to return soon. White, Maestas and Walcott all earned all-league honors last year before placing 10th as a team at the Class 4A state championships. This fall, Maestas signed a national letter of intent to play collegiately at Oregon Institute of Technology.

“I think we should do fairly well this year,” Rawles said, noting all of the team’s all-league players are back, Paul put in lots of time over the off season, Bosmans has been doing good to start her senior year and a lot of the team’s underclassmen have been hitting all winter. DHS has 25 girls out this season.

“I think we have a legitimate shot at being a top-eight team at state,” Rawles said. “I’m excited to get everyone out and see where we’re at.”

Road trip woes

To get to Grand Junction for the opening tournament was also a bit of an adventure for the Demons. Red Mountain Pass was closed, so the team went through Moab, Utah. In Utah, however, a trucker crashed into a power line, so the road was closed for about three hours. In all, the drive ended up taking DHS about 7 1/2 hours to get to Grand Junction on Sunday.

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