The Salida High School boys’ golf team posted both its lowest team score and lowest individual score of the season Thursday during the team’s home tournament, the Butch Braswell Chaffee County Invitational, at Salida Golf Club.
The Spartans shot a 278 to finish second in the team competition, while senior R.J. Clayton shot an 87 to place third individually. Freshman Aiden Hadley also won an individual award for the Spartans, placing fifth with a 93.
“Some of the kids are starting to play their best golf,” said Salida head coach Barry Spence. “Hopefully it continues.”
Clayton said hip and elbow surgeries kept him from playing as a sophomore and junior, but he is finally starting to feel like he did before the injuries.
He said what helped him Thursday was “keeping it in play and trying not to just smack it.” He said slowing down and taking his time also helped him.
Hadley had his best high school tournament to win his fifth-place plaque. “I’m really happy with it,” he said. “That’s the best I’ve shot in a tournament.”
The freshman said playing on varsity “feels amazing,” and once he gets to know the guys he’s playing with, he starts playing his game and shooting better.
He was also happy with the way he putted Thursday.
“He’s always pretty steady right down the middle,” Spence said. “For him, it’s a matter of his short game, getting it on the green and one or two putting.”
Hadley beat Buena Vista’s Leyton Chupp in a scorecard playoff to place fifth, shooting a 45 on the back nine while Chupp shot a 46.
Senior Miles Murphy shot a 97 to round out Salida’s team score, while freshman Brandon Pursell shot a 103 for the Spartans. All four of the Salida varsity golfers shot better on the back nine than they did on the front nine.
“The greens were quick and in very good shape,” Spence said. “With a little windy conditions, I’m happy with our results today.”
Buena Vista won the tournament with a 251, led by individual champ Chandler Smethers (80). Smethers beat his teammate Kik Molitor (80) in a scorecard playoff to win the title. Buena Vista’s Cole Reavis placed fourth with a 91 to round out their score.
Officially, Florence (350) placed third and Alamosa (358) finished fourth. However, Salida and Buena Vista both had sub-varsity squads finish ahead of them.
Buena Vista’s B-team shot a 305, Buena Vista’s C-team shot a 328, Salida’s purple-team shot a 334, Salida’s white team shot a 335, and Buena Vista’s D-team shot a 371.
Freshman Eric O’Connor and senior Keegan Piencikowski both shot a 105 to lead Salida’s purple and white teams, respectively.
Jacob Hergert (114), Cayden Horton (114), Isaac LaGree and Caleb Burton (116) also competed for Salida.
Next, the Spartans will compete in the third and final Tri-Peaks Leage Tournament of the season Monday at the Pueblo Country Club.
Salida will have one more tournament after that before the regional championships Sept. 24 in Aspen.
The Spartans are looking to continue slashing some strokes off their scores.
“We want to be improving each week, which we’ve been doing,” Spence said. “I’d like to see three individual scores in the 80s, which I think we can do.”
“If we can get our team score to 250 or 260, that would be a sweet team goal,” Clayton said.