By Craig Harper
For the Courier
AURORA — Michael Tait and Columbine won’t lack motivation for the 2014 season.
Tait’s junior season didn’t end quite as well as he had hoped with a tie for 17th place at the 5A state boys golf championships Oct. 1 at the par-72 Murphy Creek Golf Course. Tait shot 74-76 — 150 and improved both his place (tie for 20th) and score (157) from his sophomore year, but conceded, “I’m not too satisfied with this tournament. It’s kind of disappointing.”
But Tait had company on the final day of play. All three of his teammates shot higher than the first round and Columbine dropped from seventh place after the first day of the two-day tournament to 10th in the final team standings, three spots lower than in 2012.
“We didn’t play well today,” Columbine coach Tim Capra said after a second-round 242, 13 shots more than the opening round. “We were looking to climb up to third. We were seven shots out of third, and if we played the way we played yesterday, we thought we could get up to third. We played well yesterday, but we didn’t play that well. So it was in our grasp to play well today, but it was just one of those days in golf.”
The Rebels’ total of 471 left them 21 shots behind third-place Cherry Creek, which was two strokes in front of runner-up Ralston Valley. Regis Jesuit dominated, winning its fourth straight title by 23 strokes. The Raiders also crowned the individual champion, Spencer Painton (66-72 — 138) and co-runner-up Jake Kelley (71-69 — 140), who tied Legacy’s Li Chen (67-73).
Columbine senior Greg Shelton shot 79-83 — 162 to tie for 59th and freshman Marcus Tait, Michael’s brother, went 81-83 — 164 for 64th. Senior Greg Opperman struggled the most in the second round, shooting 91 after an opening 76, and finishing 91st at 167.
Chatfield junior Alan Berry followed an opening 76 with a 79 for a 155 total and a tie for 31st.
Tied for 13th after the first round, Tait had his sights set on a top-10 finish as he stood 3-over for the tournament and 1-over for the second day through 13 holes. But a double-bogey on 14 — his first hole into whipping winds that blew harder as the afternoon wore on — and a bogey on the long par-3 17th doomed those aspirations.
Shelton, who tied for 38th in 2012 after an opening-round 90, was “awfully disappointed’’ with his tournament. “My iron play let me down both days,’’ he said. “I was getting off the tee fine, I just couldn’t hit good approach shots.”
Berry ended his first round with back-to-back bogeys and double-bogeyed his ninth hole of Round 2. “I would’ve liked to play better, but I’m not going to be too upset about it,’’ said Berry, who qualified for the 2011 tournament, missed by a shot in ’12 and this year survived a playoff to earn his berth.
“I thought he had a good tournament overall,” Chatfield coach Steve Schimpeler said of Berry. “Hopefully he proved to himself that he can go par with a little more work.”