There’s a debate to be had about whether Niwot senior Mya Ostrom is a more dedicated student or a more dedicated golfer, but one thing there’s no argument about is her composure during a stress-filled round at the Class 4A Regional 4 tournament at Highland Hills GC on May 7.
“That is the most pressure that I've seen in a girls tournament and she showed great poise,” Head Coach Ed Weaver said after Ostrom’s unconventional round.
Thanks to a special arrangement between Weaver, the Colorado Junior Golf Association, and the Region 4 tournament organizers, Ostrom was allowed to tee off an hour early so that she could finish her game and then get back to Niwot for a 1:00 IB English Literature exam. The senior carded a 97 (+25) in the hurried round, then hopped in the car with assistant coach Isaac Peña for the 45-minute trip back to school.
Ostrom’s 97 was somewhat higher than her season average and seemed to put her out of qualifying contention. As more scores came in, however, that mark remained low enough to put her into a three-way tie for two remaining state tournament berths, a result Weaver had been dreading all day.
“That’s my nightmare,” he said shortly after Ostrom’s round got underway on Monday morning. “There’s going to be a play-off, and she’s not going to be here.”
Fortune was smiling upon Weaver and the Cougars, however, as Ostrom was able to complete her test and make it back for the playoff, though some speed limits may have been disregarded along the way. Once back on the course, Ostrom made quick work of playoff opponents Camryn Polanski (Mtn. View) and Ally Nichols (Montrose) to claim her first ever trip to the Class 4A meet.
“Mya literally came from the parking lot to the first tee, to a pressure-packed playoff with over 40 people following the three competitors down the fairway,” Weaver said. “Most knew the journey of her day to get there which made it more special . . . I couldn't be more proud of Maya!”
Ostrom’s dramatics capped off an outstanding day for Niwot at the Regional. Paced by sophomore Julia Solem, the Cougars tied for fifth in the team standings with Northern League rival Northridge. They also qualified three individuals for the state meet, which will be held this year at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs on May 21 and 22.
“The girls really came on strong at the end of the year,” Weaver said. “We peaked at the right time. Four players shot personal bests in the last two weeks of the season, and everything came together at the right time for them.”
Solem carded an 82 (+10) on the day, which matches her personal-best for the season, and was good for fourth overall in the loaded field. Her round started ominously—with a double-bogey on the par-four 10th hole—but she soon settled into a groove. She was +6 after her first nine, and +4 on the back nine, with seven pars and a birdie on the day.
“I gave it everything I had,” Solem said after her disciplined round. “I got up and down in all the places I needed to, and I think that was a real saver for me. I also putted very well.”
Before her upcoming round at state, Solem plans to seek advice from her older brother Jackson Solem, who captured the individual state golf title for Silver Creek in 2015. The older Solem is now a freshman at DU, and recently logged a season-best seventh-place finish at the NCAA Summit League Championships in Newton, Kansas.
“I’m probably going to talk to him every day,” she said. “He’s played that course [Country Club of Colorado] a couple of times, so I’ll see what he’s thinking.”
Niwot’s third state qualifier is Mya Ostrom’s freshman sister Halie Ostrom, who is also playing at the top of her game, after battling inconsistency earlier this year. The ninth-grader turned in an 89 for the day, which was good for a four-way tie for 11th place overall, as well as her best score of the season. Like Solem, Halie Ostrom got off to a bit of shaky start. She followed up a triple-bogey on her opening hole with seven doubles and a birdie to go +9 before the turn, then redeemed a double and triple on her 10th and 11th holes with two pars and a birdie to close out the round.
“I was really hoping I would qualify today, but when I was playing the last nine I got a little nervous,” she said. Thanks to a good short game, however, the freshman was able to keep from “blowing up” after some mid-round adversity.
“Halie hit a lot of good shots today,” Weaver said. “She persevered.”
Junior Laure Bourgin rounded out Niwot’s foursome for the day, but her 100 wasn’t quite low enough for a state qualifying cut. However, her unlikely journey from novice to near state-qualifier gives Bourgin plenty to build on during the off-season.
“Practice really does show when you’re playing in the tournaments,” she said. “The more you practice, the better you’ll get. Someone like Julia, who practices a lot, plays super well, and so I hope to be like her one day.”
During the two weeks between the regional and the State tournament, Weaver said he plans to meet individually with his qualifiers to design a custom practice plan and schedule. He also hopes to get in at least one round with Solem and the Ostrom sisters in Colorado Springs. One thing he doesn’t plan to do is put a lot of pressure on his team.
“They’ll put enough pressure on themselves,” Weaver said. “If they come out of high school with an appreciation and enjoyment of the game and they can play a decent round, I then I feel like I’ve done my job. If we win something in the meantime, that’s just icing on the cake.”
5/7 — 4A Region 4 Tournament, Highland Hills GC, Greeley
Team scores — Loveland 254, Glenwood Springs 256, Montrose 259, Vista Peak 262, Northridge 268, Niwot 268, Mountain View 289, Palisade 301, Centaurus 341, Silver Creek 351, Arvada 364 .
State qualifiers (* advanced in playoff)— 1. Lauren Lehigh, Loveland, 74; 2. Lois Sheaffer, Northridge 78, 2. Kylie Severin, Vista Peak 78; 4. Taylor Kettell, Montrose, 82; 4. Julia Solem, 82; 6. Lauren Murphy, Glenwood Springs, 83; 7 6. Lisa Kelley, Glenwood Springs, 84; 8. Kyree Conaway, Vista Peak, 86; 9. Taylor Bandemer, Loveland, 87; 10. Nicole Cherry, Montrose, 88; 11. Emma Sheaffer, Northridge, 89; 11. Halie Ostrom, 89; 11. Ashlyn Manuel, Montrose, 89; 11. Callie Jones, Glenwood Springs, 89; 15. Renee Demaree, Mountain View, 90; 16. Sarah Murphy, Glenwood Springs, 91; 17. Natalee Hall, Loveland, 93; 18. Casey Bradley, Loveland, 94; 19. Kathi Norell, Palisade, 95; 20. Mya Ostrom, 97*; 20. Ally Nichols, Montrose, 97*.