A total eclipse and a cart: Erie golf dominates own tournament

Apr. 8—BOULDER — As millions flocked to the eastern United States to catch a glimpse of a rare celestial event on Monday, another eclipse was taking place in Boulder.

Erie girls golf team, with talent unbound, dimmed the rest of the competition with a win at its own Erie Cocoa Classic at the Lake Valley Golf Club, shooting a collective 224 strokes. Second-place Ralston Valley trailed behind with a score of 248.

It seems the defending state champions aren't done dominating yet.

Class 4A's last two individual state champs stayed true to their form, despite battling through a tough course amid windy conditions. While Ralston Valley's Addison Hines won out with a 1-over-par 71, Erie junior Hadley Ashton and senior Logan Hale trailed just behind at second and third, carding a 72 and 73, respectively.

Ashton's second-to-last shot, a missed putt that popped off of the lip of the cup, perfectly encapsulated the kind of day she and the rest of the large field of competitors experienced.

"It was like 20 feet downhill, breaking left to right," Ashton explained. "Today, I was hitting every left-right breaker left. So I was like, 'Okay, I'm going to actually trust my line, and I know this is the right line.' I was kind of over the ball, and I just wanted it to go in, so I hit it super hard. I think if I were to go softer and more out to the left, it maybe would have dribbled in, but it just kind of stayed on the right edge."

Ashton, who won the 4A crown as a freshman in 2022, has decided to take a different approach to this spring season, instead focusing on her own game instead of worrying about those around her.

"I think I'm kind of going into the season just focusing on getting ready for college and preparing for other national tournaments," she said. "I think last season, I kind of got caught up in results, winning, breaking records. It wasn't good for me mentally because then I wasn't really just playing golf."

Hale, the reigning 4A queen, has likewise been working to hone her mental fortitude. She said that having such a strong team to back her up helps ease some of the pressure amid competition, as she continues to focus on what she can control on unfavorable courses.

"This is kind of a difficult course," Hale said. "Regardless of the distance, there's just some tricky tee shots. I would say there's some holes where it being shorter honestly makes it kind of harder, because it's just not in the correct landing areas. It was kind of windy today, but it was in good condition. ... It teaches you a new level of confidence and having to commit to your shots."

Junior Taylor Hale and senior Hollyn Drennen rounded out Erie's top-four showing with fifth (79) and 11th (82), respectively.

Muscling through

Much like the rest of the field, Fairview senior Ava Hickey had to battle the finicky pace of an otherwise sluggish tournament. In just the second competition of her last year with the Knights, she focused on the positive aspects that came with a tie for 11th and an 82.

"This one was pretty slow, especially at the beginning and the end, I feel like, which was kind of rough," Hickey said. "The middle was a normal high school pace, I guess. I had trouble getting in a rhythm, especially on the greens, but I was swinging it really well today."

Over the summer, Hickey worked on her confidence on the course and hit the weight room to tone the physical side of her game. She believed the difference in her style of play was palpable.

"My mental game was a lot stronger today and I feel like I'm definitely hitting the ball farther," she said. "I think it just gives me a lot of confidence because, even when I'm swinging it pretty well but short game's not great, I can still have a decent round and at least play how I want to even if the score doesn't reflect it."