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Dakota Ridge’s Merchant, Vance qualify for state

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The Lady Eagles overcome a tough field to take third place at regionals

By Michael Hicks

ENGLEWOOD — Sydney Merchant didn’t think she was on her game at the 5A Central Region girls golf tournament on May 5, and this was despite being 1-under-par through 10 holes.
Even so, the Dakota Ridge sophomore carded a 2-over 74 and her junior teammate Gillian Vance shot a 3-over 75 to finish third and fourth, respectively, at Broken Tee Golf Course. That helped the Lady Eagles place third in a loaded field, which included state powerhouses Regis Jesuit and Cherry Creek. This will be Merchant’s second trip to state and Vance’s third.
Regis Jesuit, behind top medalist Sydney Gillespie’s 1-under-par 71, won the 14-team regional with a 228 total. Cherry Creek, behind Calli Ringsby’s 1-over 73, was six strokes back, while the Lady Eagles came in with a 247 score. Chatfield was 11th at 354.
Merchant and Vance, the 5A Jeffco League’s top two golfers all year, certainly weren’t off their games as much as they faced stiff competition. But if you ask Dakota Ridge head coach Levi Bartholomew, the course and the weather conditions played a factor in their third- and fourth-place finishes.
“The back side was really tough today,” he said. “It played longer. A couple of pins were in tough spots. The wind picked up in the afternoon, and that made it challenging for the whole field.”
But Vance thought it was the other way around, at least for her. She was 1-over on the front nine, which included a double bogey at No. 8, and was even-par through most of the back nine until she double-bogeyed No. 18.
“I felt on the back nine I was more consistent,” she said. “The front nine, I kind of struggled on a couple of holes. The last hole kind of killed me on the back.”
It certainly didn’t help Gillespie. She was on her way to clearing the field — 5-under-par after 11 holes — before she bogeyed Nos. 12 and 18 and double bogeyed No. 16 — all par 4s.
Chatfield’s Lauren Pearson also qualified for state with an 18-over 90. She tied for 14th place.
The 5A state tournament is May 19-20 at Raccoon Creek Golf Course.

Contact Michael Hicks at sports@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.