PARKER | The Cherokee Trail girls golf team made program history with its performance over two days at the Class 5A state tournament that wrapped up Wednesday and six players from city programs made the top 20.
Scores were better for the majority of the 14 Aurora players in the field at Black Bear Golf Club in the second round and it produced some significant rises on the leaderboard, especially for the Cougars, who saw sophomore Kaleigh Babineaux rise from 14th at the opening round to eighth at the conclusion and senior Bead Boonta went from 18th to 11th.
Coach Justin Jajczyk’s Cherokee Trail team finished with a two-day team total of 496, which put them two strokes ahead of Centennial League rival Cherry Creek for fourth place, while the Cougars were also just two strokes shy of third-place Rock Canyon. Castle View, a team Cherokee Trail defeated by 20 strokes in regional play, finished second behind runaway winner Valor Christian.
Babineaux finished tied for 38th at state as a freshman and made a huge jump as a sophomore as she overcame the disappointment of a plus-9 81 in the opening round with a 74 that shot her up the standings. Her final round included three birdies.
Boonta tied for 11th as a junior and finished in the exact same spot as a senior, but she finished four strokes lower than she had in the 2022 tournament. She shot 77 in her second round (after an 82 in the first round) with one birdie and nothing worse than a bogey.
Sophomore Haylee Clark provided the third score for Cherokee Trail with a two-day total of 182 that tied her for 37th overall.
In her third state tournament, Grandview junior Caroline Ryan matched Boonta for the biggest drop from first round to second (seven strokes), as she followed an opening round 85 with a 78 that kept her in 17th place in the final standings.
The Wolves climbed one spot in the team standings from the first round to the second round as they finished 10th with the second and third scores coming from seniors Courtney Ladymon and Allie Arritola, respectively.
Led by sophomore Audrey Whitworth, Regis Jesuit surpassed last season’s 11th-place finish with an eighth-place result.
Whitworth had a 10-stroke drop from first to second rounds in 2022 when she finished tied for 45th and she bettered her first round 83 with an 81 in the second round to come in 18th overall. Whitworth came in one stroke ahead of senior Caitlin Neumann, who shot 86 after opening with an 81. The third score for coach Charlie Rutenbeck’s Raiders came from Georgia Meysman-Sharpe, who finished 49th and came in on spot ahead of Paige Furgason.
Individually, Smoky Hill’s Sophia Stiwich posted the top result among locals with her runner-up finish (see story), while Eaglecrest senior Savanna Becker finished a career-best 19th in her third state tournament appearance.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2023 CLASS 5A GIRLS STATE GOLF TOURNAMENT
May 30-31 at Black Bear Golf Club
Team scores (par 216-216 — 432): 1. Valor Christian 224-237 — 461; 2. Castle View 242-240 — 482; 3. Rock Canyon 244-250 — 494; 4. CHEROKEE TRAIL 253-243 — 496; 5. Cherry Creek 238-260 — 498; 6. Legend 259-244 — 503; 7. Mountain Vista 253-253 — 506; 8. REGIS JESUIT 257-262 — 519; 9. Fossil Ridge 258-268 — 526; 10. GRANDVIEW 276-266 — 542; 11. Arapahoe 280-270 — 550; 12. Chaparral 266-286 — 552; 13. Ralston Valley 286-292 — 578; 14. Lakewood 292-287 — 579; 15. Columbine 302-281 — 583; 16. Fairview 297-293 — 590
Top 10 individuals (par 72): 1. Brenna Higgins (Valor Christian) 66-77 — 143 (won in playoff); 2. SOPHIA STIWICH (SMOKY HILL) 67-76 — 143; 3. Ashleigh Wilson (Rock Canyon) 75-70 — 145; 4. Caitlyn Chin (Cherry Creek) 68-80 — 148; T5. Elle Higgins (Valor Christian) 74-75 — 149; T5. Sydney McCord (Castle View) 75-74 — 149; 7. Ellie Barry (Fossil Ridge) 80-74 — 154; 8. KALEIGH BABINEAUX (CHEROKEE TRAIL) 81-74 — 155; T9. Addison Hines (Ralston Valley) 75-81 — 156; T9. Ashley Chang (Rock Canyon) 72-84 — 156