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NHS boys golf team roars back

What a difference a week makes!

After struggling two weeks ago at their own golf tournament, the Niwot Cougars roared back last week, finishing a close second at the Fort Morgan league event, three shots behind Riverdale Ridge High School, and then winning the Mountain View league event at the Olde Course at Loveland by three strokes over those same Ravens. The tournaments were highlighted by individual titles at both events for senior Emmett Shell.

The Cougars' low average leader throughout the season, Shell was forced to withdraw from the Cougar-hosted event two weeks ago at Twin Peaks Golf Course due to illness. But he returned to top form with winning scores of even-par 72 at Fort Morgan and one-over 73 in Loveland. Both victories came with Riverdale Ridge's defending 4A state champion Bradley Weinmaster nipping at his heels.

"They (the Ravens) are definitely a good measuring stick for us. That's a good way to put it," Niwot's head coach Ed Weaver offered. "Their history speaks for itself. They won a state championship two years ago and Bradley was the individual state champion last year, so yeah, we're out to beat them."

The Cougars' victory in Loveland was powered by top four finishes from all three of their team-score contributors. Sophomore Sawyer Bennett finished one shot behind Shell, tying Weinmaster at 74. Bennett finished the Fort Morgan tournament in fourth place, four behind Shell at 76.

"We need to keep Sawyer dialed in," Weaver said after seeing his team's number two player fade late in the season a year ago. "There were a couple of times when he pulled out a driver and I kind of got a little nervous, but he ended up making a whole bunch of solid shots."

Senior Brighton Langenegger was just one shot behind Bennett and Weinmaster in Loveland with a fourth-place tying score of 75. Langenegger's three-over total was his best career round in tournament play. Sophomore Jackson Sessa also finished in the top 10, shooting 77 to wind up in ninth place overall.

Weaver said that the key to the victory was better course management and avoiding big numbers. For the top three Cougars, only one double bogey crept onto a scorecard, a double for Langenegger on the par-4 12th hole on the Olde Course.

"That's really the key," Weaver explained. "You've got to avoid those big numbers. If you don't, your score's going up for sure because you can recover from a bogey. Pars are 100% great. If they get a bogey, I'm okay with that. All these guys can make birdies so if they make a bogey, no big deal. Get back on track and sneak in a birdie here and there. But when you start making doubles, then it can tend to multiply."

The Cougars' cumulative league event scores put them currently in second place in the Longs Peak League trailing Riverdale Ridge by 24 shots. With three league events remaining before the Regional Tournament on September 21, Weaver knows what he's shooting for -- more of this past week's magic.

"My guys played great this week. We want to keep at least our second place in league, right where we are now. We're behind 24 strokes and that's a pretty big hill to climb. But we've got a pretty good lead over (third place) Severance (30 strokes), so we want to just keep improving over these last three tournaments," Weaver said.

In the junior varsity event last week in Fort Morgan, the young Cougars finished in third place behind Riverdale Ridge and Severance High School led by sophomore Henry Noblin's 83. The other contributors to the team score were sophomore Joe Weimer (89) and freshman Hogan Reester (91).


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