By Craig Harper
For the Courier
LAKEWOOD — You’d be hard-pressed to find a better all-around high school athlete in Colorado than Michael Tait. The Columbine junior likely will earn four letters this school year and start at arguably three of the most important positions in team sports — quarterback (football), point guard (basketball) and center field (baseball).
Tait’s fourth sport — golf — got the jump on football Aug. 13, and he made the most of it, shooting a 3-under-par 69 at Fox Hollow Golf Course to win the first of six 5A Jeffco League tournaments this season.
It was a noteworthy start to the season for Tait, who is bent on improving a successful sophomore year on the links in which he tied for 20th at the 5A state meet and earned second-team all-conference honors.
It also begs the question: How good would Tait be if he wasn’t splitting his time among four sports, not to mention the overlapping of golf and football?
“I think about it a lot,’’ said Tait, who believes golf and baseball are his best bets for a college scholarship.
“If he had a little more time for golf I think he’d be scary low,’’ said Columbine coach Tim Capra said. “He’s such a good athlete he can do just about anything. He really can.’’
Tait regularly boomed his drives past fellow No. 1 competitors in his foursome in the Jeffco opener, but his putting made the difference. He had eight one-putt greens to finish two shots ahead of Ralston Valley’s Garrett Jones and Ray Carlsen, and he sank three par-saving putts longer than four feet during a four-hole stretch in the middle of his round. Tait made four birdies and one bogey.
“Everything was falling. I guess I saved a lot of strokes where it could have been a lot worse,’’ Tait said. “I really wasn’t expecting a 69, but I was expecting something around par.’’
State runner-up Ralston Valley, the defending league and regional champion, beat Columbine and Lakewood by 21 shots, 295 to 316. Chatfield and Dakota Ridge were sixth and seventh at 337 and 343, respectively.
The Rebels, who finished eighth at state, are hoping to make a stronger run at the league champion Mustangs. But they’ll need lower scores from the rest of the team, including senior Greg Shelton, who tied for 38th at state but shot 80 at Fox Hollow.
“We imploded on those last three or four holes,’’ Capra said. “We had a guy make a nine and one guy finished double-triple (bogey), or we probably would’ve been around 304-305. It’s going to be tough (to beat Ralston), but if we play the way we’re capable I think we can do it.’’
Chatfield got a strong 76 from senior A.J. Berry and an 80 from senior Andrew Metanias, but the next-best score was 87 by Cody Reynolds in his varsity debut.
“We have a lot of work to do,’’ said Chargers coach Steve Schimpeler. “That might be overall one of the worst performances we’ve had in a long time. But I really like how we battled back when things weren’t going our way. We faced some adversity early and we battled through it. A.J. had a solid round, and Cody Reynolds did a great job in our five spot. So there were definitely some positives to take from this. But, overall, it was a tough day.’’
Junior Paul Fox, a returning state qualifier, led Dakota Ridge with an 80. Senior Sean Rosen, the Eagles’ only other returning varsity player, shot 90.
“As you can see, we’ve got some work to do,’’ said Eagles coach Scott Burroughs. “We’re still pretty much in a rebuilding mode. This was the first league tournament for three of our players.’’