Ed Weaver and the Niwot girls golf team have checked off most of the items on their 2019 to-do list: Northern League champions (by 122 strokes), conference Player of the Year (Julia Solem), POY runner-up (Halie Ostrom), and conference Coach of the Year (Weaver). Now they can cross off the penultimate item: qualifying as a team for the upcoming Class 4A championships at Pelican Lakes.
“I’m very proud of all the girls,” Weaver said after the Cougars took second overall at the Class 4A Region 3 tournament, held at Longmont’s Fox Hill Country Club on May 6. “They all played well enough to do what they had to do to get in. Now we wipe the slate clean and start over in two weeks.”
There was surprisingly little drama on the day, despite a stacked field that included four of the top-five teams in Class 4A (Windsor, Niwot, Holy Family, Northridge) competing for just two team spots at Pelican Lakes. The team title went to defending 4A champion Windsor, which finished the day with 247 strokes (+31), behind standouts Jessica Zapf and Kinsey Smith, who both carded an 80 (+8) for the round and finished in a four-way tie for second place.
The individual title went to Holy Family’s Hailey Schalk (78), last year’s Class 3A champion. Following her was Tiger teammate Jessica Mason (80) and Mead freshman Timbre Shehee (80). Of the regional’s 51 players, 21 qualified to advance to the championships, slated for May 20-21.
That lack of drama came as a relief to Weaver, who was also tasked with hosting duties for the 14-team regional. The Cougars were paced on the day by junior Solem, who carded an 82 (+10), which was good for sixth overall. She was followed by freshman Sydney Rothstein (87) in ninth, sophomore Ostrom (91) in 12th and senior Laure Bourgin (92) in 14th, for a final score of 260 (+44).
“There weren’t really any huge surprises for me,” Weaver said of his team’s performance on the day. “I figured if we played well enough we’d beat Holy Family, and we beat them by four shots…. Our strength was that our entire spread was just 10 shots.”
Though not so much a surprise, Weaver was definitely pleased by the play of Rothstein, who has provided much-needed depth to the Cougars and been a big key to their success during the regular season.
“She’s so coachable,” Weaver said of the ninth-grader, who shot a personal best 85 at her first ever high school event back in March. “And mentally, she’s so far ahead.”
Rothstein landed her third shot on the 18th hole within two feet of the pin, and then sunk her putt to finish the round with a birdie, the second of day for the freshman. She said an early case of the jitters gave way to calm as she made her way around the familiar course.
“I didn’t completely break down when something went wrong,” she said of her performance. “In that sense, I think I beat myself. Being able to come back from bad holes—I got a seven on one hole and came back with a birdie on the next one—that really kept up my morale. I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t let one hole define the rest of my round.”
The Cougars will have some time to savor their runner-up finish, as the state tournament is still nearly two weeks away. Between now and then, Weaver plans to get in a couple of practice rounds at Pelican Lakes with the team, which Rothstein believes will help calm her rookie nerves.
“Hopefully, I can play with the more experienced players on the team, and they can give me some tips, so I can go into it and not freak out as much as I did. I think that was a big part of today...getting familiar with the course and getting familiar with the emotions I’m going to have as I’m playing it.”