A year ago, Michael Tait was only a freshman. Yet, at times, he was Columbine's best player. Head coach Tim Capra will tell you that. That's not to say, however, that Tait's veins were filled with ice water. They certainly weren't.
“It was pretty nerve-racking going in as a freshman to varsity,” Tait said.
But as the regular season rolled along, it wasn't all that bad for the Rebels' No. 1 golfer, who averaged a 79 and was ninth in the 5A Jeffco League, leading to a second-team all-conference selection. It was just unfortunate for him that the Metro West Regional was a slightly different story.
“Regionals, obviously, didn't go too well,” he said.
He didn't shoot poorly, firing an 86 at Westminster's Legacy Ridge Golf Course. But shots that all season had been right on were going astray. It was just enough to keep him one shot out of qualifying for the 5A state tournament.
“I had played (the course) twice before. I wrote down everything, and then at regionals it wasn't clicking. I was hitting the ball very rough. I had a few bad holes,” Tait said.
Nerves had sunk in and his shots were long. He was upset, and things weren't getting any better. But that was no excuse, Tait said. Instead of sulking over what could've been last year, the rising sophomore is working on cutting his swing back and slowing his motion down.
“I like to hit it hard with every club,” Tait said. “Once I slow it down, I'll be a lot better than I was. Hopefully, I'll hit the ball more straight.”
That's the goal as Columbine and the rest of the 5A Jeffco League embark on the 2012 season beginning next week.
While Tait and teammate Logan Smith, who also finished one stroke out of the running, could only ponder what-if from last year, now-senior Billy Ramsey and junior Greg Shelton gained valuable experience. Shelton placed 51st with an 18-over-par 160 at the 5A state tournament, while Ramsey was one stroke back at Brookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction.
“I'm hoping that experience will give me a little more confidence this year. Hopefully, I'll lead the team to a few wins here and there and a league championship if we can,” Ramsey said.
Considering Columbine is pegged as one of two favorites — along with Ralston Valley — in the 5A Jeffco League there's that proverbial bull's-eye on the Rebels. But Tait's not concerned.
“I take it as a motivator,” Tait said.
And he's certainly got plenty of that.