Arapahoe High School in Centennial has come close many times to winning a state golf championship.
The Warriors were second the past two seasons and third in the previous two campaigns.
Arapahoe’s golfers dominated for most of the regular season, and on Oct. 5 at the Colorado Springs County Club the team wrapped up its first state golf title since 1988.
The Warriors held a one-shot lead after the first day of competition but came in with a 216 during the final round to finish with 438 strokes to outdistance Greenwood Village’s Cherry Creek High School by 17 strokes. Creek finished second at 455. Highlands Ranch was third at 458.
“It feels really special,” said Arapahoe coach Harry Buckner. “This is a special group of kids. They challenged each other all year in all of our practices and competition.
“Thirty-three years ago is the last time we won a state championship. That’s a long time ago. We’ve been knocking on the door but it’s so hard to open because there are so many good teams.”
Arapahoe senior Will Kates didn’t have to wait 33 years to win his second state individual title championship. Kates, who captured the state championship in 2019, shot a final round of 1-under-par 70 and tied first-day leader Wesley Erling of Pine Creek for first place with 142 two-round totals.
Kates won a playoff on the second playoff hole with a seven-foot birdie putt to earn his second state championship.
“I kinda made some really good putts today and that kinda of kept me in early,” said Kates. “I built off that and kept going from there.”
And he made the biggest putt on the second extra hole of the playoff, which was the 524-yard, par 5 first hole.
“I had that exact same putt on the first this morning, so I hit it on my line and it went in,” Kates continued. “It’s pretty cool to win. If you told me my freshman year that I would win two state championships I wouldn’t have believed you.
“Winning state is just as cool as the individual, to be honest with you. My base goal this year was to get the team title.”
Kates was the leader but Max Zadvorny had a 1-over-par 72 and wound up in eighth place with a total of 149. Matthew Wilkinson and Grant Juergens each had final rounds of 74. Wilkinson came in tied for sixth at 147 and Juergens was ninth at 150.
Luke Cushman of Castle View High School in Castle Rock had a final-round 72 and came in tied for third place at 147, and Ryan Peragallo of Highlands Ranch tied with Juergens for ninth place.
Cherry Creek’s Jonathan Trigg had a 151 total to lead the Bruins’ charge into second place.
Despite the large margin of victory, Buckner admitted to being concerned heading into the final round of the two-day tournament.
“Yeah, I was concerned,” he said. “We had a one-stroke lead after the first day. We were scared. You never know what is going to happen. I thought we would play good, we always play better the second day than we do the first day. All four guys played really well.”
In the Class 3A state tournament that was held at Spring Valley Golf Club in Elizabeth, Lutheran’s Aj Papajohn finished tied for sixth in the individual standings after turning in rounds of 75 and 73 for a 148 total.
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