Girls golfers finish 6th in Class 3A

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

PUEBLO -- It’s a long way to the top is more than a title of a vintage AC/DC rock song.

Concerning Mullen girls golf, the Mustangs are gradually climbing back into contention – the program was a state champion from 2001-05 -- as evidenced by their recent showing at the Class 3A tournament.

No, they’re not ready to take on the classification’s top players, but they’re gaining ground. The Mustangs finished in sixth place on Tuesday, the second day of competing at Elmwood Golf Course. And they missed making a top-five spot by a shot.

First-year coach Ashley Tait, herself a three-time medalist while at Mullen the past decade, understands fully.

“It’s difficult,” she agreed in assessing her team’s climb. “(Tuesday) was a much-better day for us and it was a good tournament overall.”

The Mustangs ended at plus-156 over the two rounds of the par-71 layout, a stroke behind Gunnison. The top four were: Colorado Academy, plus-62; Kent Denver, plus-69; Rifle, plus-75; and Jefferson Academy, plus-109.

Individually, freshman Anna Kreiling has been the Mustangs’ top player all season, and a sign of the improvement was sophomore Morgan Gross matching her showing at plus-49. Gross went 101-90—191 to display a better game and Kreiling remained steady at 95-96. Another sophomore, Paige Sowitch, turned in 102-98-200.

While those scores won’t necessarily turn many heads, Tait knows improvement comes in all kinds of doses and playing under state-tournament conditions can only help.

“The course was a little challenging with a lot of tree trouble to get into,” the coach said. “You had to hit it straight. We struggled with our ball-striking (on Monday) and we were much better (on Tuesday), but we still left a few out there.”

Medalist was sophomore Hailey Schalk of Holy Family, her second consecutive title after firing a second-reound 67.

Tait said she learned along with her players during the season, and building a program that was coming off having no players with golf as their primary sport can be demanding, but enjoyed the time with the team during the most-difficult season of the three during the school year.

“Any spring sport just takes a little longer to get warmed up,” she said, “and into the swing of things, and the weather plays a factor, too.”

The future looks bright for Mustangs girls golf and Tait said she wants to continue being a part of it.

“I’m very encouraged and we have a couple of good eighth-graders (and junior players) coming in that should have us with a fully stacked team,” Tait said. “And, yeah, I had a great time. I felt like I was able to help the girls. It was good for me to see and good for them.

“I look forward to next school year.”

 

Mustangs qualify for 3A girls golf tournament

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Late-season improvement has lifted Mullen. Mustangs girls golfers have qualified for the Class 3A tournament.

“Yeah, the girls played really well,” first-year head coach Ashley Tait said.

On Tuesday, Mullen totaled 288 to finish second behind winner Rifle (242) at 3A’s Region 4 at Rifle Creek Golf Course.

Over the par-72 layout, freshman Anna Kreiling shot 22-over-par 94, followed by sophomores Morgan Gross (95) and Paige Sowitch (99) to advance the Mustangs to the state tournament, May 21-22 at Elmwood G.C. in Pueblo.

“It’s the first time all year, I think, that we’ve all been under 100,” Tait said.

It may not seem like that great of a jump, but the younger Mustangs have gradually grown, said Tait, a former three-time schoolgirl medalist while at Mullen, and “I’m really happy I was able to help them and that’s what I wanted to do as a coach.”

The layout played tough, Tait added.

“It was really difficult with two different nines,” she said. “One was in the meadow and that was fairly easy; the other was kind of in the canyon, so there was a lot of trouble around the fairways.”

Kreiling, consistently Mullen’s best player all season, shot 46-48 with a birdie 2 on the par-3 107-yard No. 15. Gross went 49-46 and Sowitch 48-51. Senior Mel Robles finished at 122 and didn’t advance to state with teammates because of the 10-shot rule (within qualifiers).

Kreiling tied for eighth, Gross was 10th and Sowitch tied for 12th.

Rifle had the medalist in junior Masi Smith, who shot even-par; the runner-up in senior Elly Waters, plus-7; and Savannah Seay, who tied for fifth, at plus-19.

“I knew Rifle was good,” Tait said. “(The Bears) ended up winning and we had to keep up with them if we were to have any chance.”

Mustangs in Rifle, 3A state berths at stake

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Mullen girls golfers have headed west. The Mustangs will be playing mountain golf to qualify for Colorado’s Class 3A tournament.

On Tuesday morning, the Mustangs will be teeing it up at Rifle Creek Golf Course. They are part of a 12-team regional, Region 4 of the 3A outlay. They will join players from Aspen, Battle Mountain, Coal Ridge, Dolores, Eagle Valley, Grand Valley, Gunnison, Moffat County, Rifle, Steamboat Springs and Vail Mountain.

“We’ll have to play pretty well to compete here,” said first-year Mustangs head coach Ashley Tait, a former three-time medalist while at Mullen who was overseeing practice rounds on Monday.

Tait realizes there hasn’t been a lot of fluctuation in 2018 in her team’s play, a group with young talent attempting to make a jump. Freshman Anna Kreiling has been the team’s top player. Morgan Gross and Paige Sowitch have shown improvement as has Mel Robles, but Tait said “we’ll need someone to go low for us to qualify.”

Two teams will advance among nearly two dozen individuals through 18-hole qualifying.

Rifle G.C. will play to a par-72 and approximately 5,127 yards.

All players will go off at 9:30 a.m.

Concerning the other regionals, 2 (at Common Ground G.C. in Aurora) and 3 (at The Olde Course at Loveland) were held Monday; 1 also is Tuesday at Hollydot G.C. in Colorado City.

The 3A state tournament will be May 21-22 at Elmwood G.C. in Pueblo, 36 holes.

‘Stangs golfers 16th at Ashley Forey tourney

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

GOLDEN -- Mullen tie dfor 16th on Monday at the Ashley Forey Invitational in girls golf.

Competing at The Club at Rolling Hills, the Mustangs were a combined 98-over par over the par-71 layout, which tied them with Lakewood. The overall team winner was Arvada West (plus-28), followed by Ralston Valley (plus-40) and Cherry Creek (plus-43).

Individually, freshman Anna Kreiling again headed Mullen with a 96, including a birdie at the 128-yard par-3 17th. Morgan Gross finished at plus-30, Paige Sowitch at plus-43 and Mel Robles at plus-46.

Colorado Academy’s Caroline Jordaan was the overall winner, shooting a crisp even-par at 36-35 with a birdie-3 on No. 4. Tied for second at 3-over were Reagan Robinson of Arvada West and Marie Jordaan of Colorado Academy.

The Forey family, which hosts the event, lost Ashley to an automobile accident two decades ago and it has turned into one of the most-popular stops annually on the schoolgirl tour in the spring.

Mustangs drop to 6th; Kreiling again the top golfer

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

AURORA -- After moving up a spot in Centennial League play in the previous tournament, Mullen girls golfers fell back to sixth place at Wednesday’s latest grouping held at Saddle Rock Golf Course.

As a team, the Mustangs combined for 121-over par. The winner was Grandview at plus -23, followed by Cherry Creek, plus-28; Arapahoe, plus-40; Cherokee Trail, plus-73; and Eaglecrest, plus-84. Smoky Hill and Overland did not field teams.

Freshman Anna Kreiling again topped the Mustangs, shooting plus-25 97, going 47-50 for 21st. Sophomore Morgan Gross finished at plus-29,  sophomore Paige Sowitch was a stroke back at plus-30, junior Jessica Bryan shot plus-27 and senior Mel Robles ended at plus-42.

There was a tie for top individual honors – Grandview’s Amy Chitkoksoong and Cherry Creek’s Emma Bryant tied at 1-over 73. Chitkoksoong had five birdies, three on the front. Bryant had three birdies on the back.

The Mustangs will have an after-school gathering on Thursday, April 26, 3:30 p.m., at Family Sports and wrap up the regular season on Monday, April 30, at Rolling Hills Country Club in Golden, the Ashley Forey Memorial Tournament hosted by Wheat Ridge.

Mustangs move up a spot in Centennial girls golf

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Consider it as improvement – Mullen moved up a spot in Centennial League girls golf.

The Mustangs tied with Cherokee Trail for fifth place in the fifth league meet of the season on Wednesday held at Raccoon Creek Golf Course. They had been stuck on finishing sixth in multiple league meets.

Both teams finished at 89-over par as groups. First was Cherry Creek, plus-24, followed by Arapahoe (plus-29), Grandview (plus-33) and Eaglecrest (plus-85), so the Mustangs flirted with taking fourth. Overland and Smoky Hill do not field full teams.

Individually over the 36-36—72 layout, where Mustangs head coach Ashley Tait used to play as a schoolgirl and whose father, Pat, is the head professional, freshman Anna Kreiling again set the team pace, going 46-39--85, including birdies on the back side at Nos. 10 and 17. Mel Robles followed up with a 95 and Paige Sowitch carded a 97. Morgan Gross made an even 100.

Arapahoe’s Ella Chism topped the field and was the only player under par. She went 38-33 with four birdies on the back side for a 1-under 71. Eaglecrest’s Emma Bryant and Grandview’s Amy Chitkoksoong each had 74s.

Mullen will resume play in a week, on Wednesday, April 25, at Saddle Rock G.C. in Aurora, another Centennial meet.

    

Girls finish 11th at Cherry Creek golf tourney

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

At the Bruin Invitational hosted by Cherry Creek at Common Ground Golf Course on Monday, Mullen girls finished 11th of 14 teams.

The Mustangs were a combined 86-over par. In a mix of teams from all three classifications, Kent Denver finished first at plus-20. Next were; Fossil Ridge, plus-23; Arapahoe, plus-29; Cherry Creek, plus-36; Colorado Academy, plus-49; Vista Peak, plus-53; Broomfield and Eaglecrest, plus-54; Monarch plus-67; and Rock Canyon plus-75. After the Mustangs were: Legacy, plus-110; The Classical Academy, plus-114; and Mountain Range, plus-115.

Once again, freshman Anna Kreiling led Mullen. She shot 45-44—89 for 18-over. Morgan Gross, plus-33; Mel Robles, plus-35; and Jessica Bryan, plus-38, finished in a virtual pack.

In the 60-plus-player field, two were able go below par. Medalist Caroline Jordan, a junior from Colorado Academy, fired a 3-under 68, going 35-33. She rolled to seven birdies. And Kent Denver’s Charlotte Hillary, a sophomore, finished at 1-under 70, nabbing four birdies, including three on the back nine.

Mullen will resume play on Wednesday, when it will host a Centennial League tournament at Raccoon Creek G.C. in Littleton, first tee shots at 1 p.m.

Mustangs 6th – again – in Centennial girls golf

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Mullen again took sixth place in a Centennial League girls golf gathering on Wednesday, the fourth of the season. The Mustangs also were sixth the past week at Aurora Hills Golf Course.

Competing at Meadow Hills G.C. in Aurora (par 36-35—71), the Mustangs totaled plus-147 over par. The team winner was Cherry  Creek (plus-39) that was able to slip past Grandview (plus-43). Next were: Arapahoe (plus-67); Eaglecrest (plus-94); and Cherokee Trail (plus-147). Overland and Smoky Hill did not field full teams. Four players scored for each team.

Individually, the Mustangs were led by sophomore Paige Sowitch, who shot 101, 30-over. Another sophomore, Morgan Cross, tied with freshman Anna Kreiling at 107. Junior Jessica Bryan was at plus-45 to complete the team scoring and senior Mel Robles was at plus-56.

Eaglecrest freshman Emma Bryant shot a very solid 73, good enough to earn medalist honors and outduel Grandview’s Amy Chitkoksoong (78). Cherry Creek’s Kaylynn Xia and Payton Canon both finished at 79.

The Mustangs’ next outing will be in a week, Wednesday, April 18, at Raccoon Creek G.C. in Littleton, another league match.

Mustangs sixth at Centennial League No. 3 girls golf

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Mullen took sixth place as a team on Wednesday in the third Centennial League gathering of the season.

In scoring four players, the Mustangs were a combined 99-over par at Aurora Hills Golf Course. They were sixth of six teams that scored – Cherry Creek won at 5-over, followed by Grandview (29-over), Arapahoe (52-over), Cherokee Trail (69-over) and Eaglecrest  (71-over). Overland and Smoky Hill did not field full teams.

“I’m happy and I think we did better,” Mustangs first-year head coach Ashley Tait said.

Earlier in the week, the Mustangs struggled in the Grandview Invitational at Heritage Eagle Bend G.C., where a best-ball format was used.

Individually, Mustangs freshman Anna Kreiling and sophomore Paige Sowitch each finished at 21-over 93. Sophomore Morgan Gross (98) and senior Mel Robles (103) completed their team scoring. Senior Meghan Compton was a shot back at 104.

Medalist was Cherry Creek senior Payton Canon, who fired a blistering 68, including a 5-under 31 on the front nine. Grandvew’s Amy Chitkoksoong was three back at 71.

The Mustangs’ next outing will be April 11, when they gather for another Centennial meet, beginning at noon, at Meadow Hills G.C. in Aurora.

Mustangs saving shots in early golf rounds 

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Mullen finished sixth of eight teams on Wednesday in the second Centennial League gathering of the girls golf season.

It was held at Littleton Golf and Tennis, a par-63 executive course that contained 11 par 3s and only two par 5s.

Individually, the Mustangs’ top finisher was 20th of 36 who were listed in scoring as they already have improved finishes than a much-more inexperienced team in 2017.

Three golfers on each team counted toward team scoring. Grandview was first at plus-7 202. Next were Cherry Creek, plus-16; Eaglecrest, plus-23; Arapahoe, plus-25; Cherokee Trail, plus-49 and Mullen, plus-58. Overland and Smoky Hill each had only two players listed in scoring.

There was a three-way tie for the top spot. Grandview had two of them, Ami Chitkoksoong and Sydney Szarka, at 2-over-par 65. Cherry Creek’s Kaylynn Xia also shot 65.

For the Mustangs, who earlier opened with a nine-hole event and are operating under new head coach Ashley Tait, freshman Anna Kreiling shot 74 to take 20th; sophomore Morgan Gross finished at 78 for a tie at 25th; junior Jessica Bryan and sophomore Paige Sowitch tied for 27th at 79; and senior Marie McCarthy was at 85 for 33rd.

Mullen will be idle until Monday, March 19, when it will be at a Grandview-sponsored event at Heritage Eagle Bend in Aurora, tee times at 12:30 p.m.

Spring Preview: Mustangs at least a stroke ahead from 2017 

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

It’s a new look for the Mullen girls golf. From the top to throughout the roster, changes and improvements have been made.

And the Mustangs will be seeking better results.

In 2017, Mullen’s roster was basically full with players who played more for fun than anything else, although they did manage to qualify for state as a team. It finished 12th of 13 teams in Class 3A.

In 2018, the Mustangs have multiple players taking lessons and are aiming to make a better mark this season.

“It’s going really well and I’m excited,” new Mullen head coach Ashley Tait said. “The girls have been fun and it’s going to be even better when the weather warms up.”

Tait is a former Mustangs assistant who takes over for Kate Walker. She’s also a three-time schoolgirl medalist for the Mustangs and accomplished collegiate player who continues to flirt with making one of the regular professional tours.

For now, Tait is working to get the Mustangs back to the level they owned early in the previous decade when they won five consecutive team titles. A year of practice and commitment, she said, should make a considerable difference.

Paige Sowitch, Tait said, probably will be team’s top player. Freshman Anna Kreiling could be a top prospect. Morgan Gross is a returning state qualifier. Mel Robles was an alternate qualifier a year ago and Jessica Bryan is back from being injured in 2017.

“We have to come prepared,” Tait said. “But I feel good about these girls.”

As usual, the Mustangs will compete ahead in two classifications, in the Centennial league. The Mustangs will open on Thursday, a nine-hole meet at The Links Golf Course in Highlands Ranch, a league gathering.    

 

Mustangs grad Ashley Tait is school’s latest hire

Three-time golf champion and 3-year assistant now heads program  

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

The trend of current and former professionals coaching in the prep ranks has been real for decades in Colorado, although not notably relevant in golf.

Mullen’s girls team has been an exception as Ashley Tait has served as an assistant over the past three seasons. It got better recently, when Tait was named the team’s new head coach.

“I’m really excited and I think the girls are happy I’m coming back,” Tait said this week.

One of the best Colorado players since the game was sanctioned in 1990, Tait, a Mustangs alumnus, was Class 4A medalist in 2002, 2003 and 2005. She went on to Tulane, then SMU after Hurricane Katrina and finished North Carolina-Wilmington. Her list of accomplishments also includes competing in three U.S. National Publinx Championships, being a college conference championship winner, runner-up in a couple of state opens and playing on the Symetra Tour, the step before joining the LPGA.

Also employed at Raccoon Creek Golf Course in Littleton, where her father, Pat, is the pro, Tait is currently rehabbing a back problem before again attempting to join the ladies big tour.

When she heard that longtime Mustangs coach Kate Walker resigned and opted to go to Middle Park, Tait, who was on four of Mullen’s five consecutive state-championship teams, said she approached athletic director Vince Massey “and told him I was willing to take it over.”

Some rebuilding will be required, Tait said, “and we have a lot of new players to golf, some who may have picked it up the last few years. But we have a lot of potential and athletes in general.

“We have some improving to do, but they’re a fun bunch of girls.”

Tait likes the fact that “I’ll actually be able to teach them,” and “depending on my playing career, I would like to help in some long-term capacity. I enjoy coaching.”

First Day of 3A Golf Tourney

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

Mullen ran into the debut of Class 3A girls golf on Monday.  And the debut was convincing over the par-71, 5,434-yard layout.  Competing at The Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield, launch of the latest classification provided some high-end play in the first of two rounds.

Holy Family freshman Hailey Schalk fired a 6-under-par 65 to open a six-shot lead.  And teamwise, Colorado Academy, the winner in 4A a year ago, combined for an opening-round 2-over total of 215, some 23 strokes better than second-place Holy Family.  As for the Mustangs, senior Meghan Witt carded a 58-50—108. She was followed by Paige Sowitch (113) and Morgan Gross (157).  Witt said “the course isn’t that hard, it’s just the water. And at least this is a two-day tournament.”

With Tuesday being her last round as a high-schooler, Witt said “it’s bittersweet, but it has been a good four years and I’ve improved every year. And it has been fun being on the team.”  On Tuesday, Witt and teammates will go off from the No. 10 tee. Witt will be at 8:39 a.m., Sowitch at 9:24 a.m. and Gross at 10:27 a.m.

As one of 40 schools to be represented, Mullen will be in the inaugural Class 3A girls golf state tournament on Monday and Tuesday.  The third classification to join the fray since sanctioning, the 3A group will compete at the Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield.  Three Mustangs have qualified, enough to get them into the team chase. They will begin at hole No. 10, each in succession. Meghan Witt will tee off at 9:24 a.m., Morgan Gross at 9:33 p.m. and Paige Sowitch at 9:42 a.m.  

The Broadlands opened in 1999. It will play at a par 72 for the girls with a course rating of 72.9 and slope rating of 135.  


Inexperienced Mustangs qualify as a team

By Neil H. Devlin
Mullen Sports Information Specialist

The weather turned awful, but the results proved awfully pleasant.

Competing in one of the new Class 3A girls golf regionals on Monday, Mullen, after lightning delays, some rain and plenty of wind, did something it hadn’t done in more than a decade, according to coach Kate Walker.

The Mustangs qualified as a team (three players) for the first time since 2007 – the last time it won a state title -- and may add a fourth qualifier. At Spring Valley Golf Course in Elizabeth, Morgan Gross, Paige Sowitch and Meghan Witt advanced as individual qualifiers. Moving three to the 3A state tournament at The Broadlands G.C. in Broomfield from May 22-23 gives Mullen team status. In addition, Melicia Robles was named as second alternate. Walker said Robles’ chance to compete is fairly good as conflicts with testing, graduation and other end-of-school-year activities could easily change the field.

As it was, the 3A Region 2 field came with an assortment of players who picked up their balls as well as no-shows.

“It could happen,” Coach Walker said.

As for being represented at state in full, Walker said “It’s a great feeling because it has been since 2005 that we’ve had a team (at state), since Ashley (Tait, a Mustangs assistant coach) was here. That’s kind of a cool note. It was Ashley’s senior year. Now, she’s here as a coach.”

Witt, a senior who made the 4A state field a year ago, led Mullen’s scoring. She went 45-50—95, a stroke off her best output of the season (she scored 94 in a round at Englewood’s Broken Tee G.C.).

“The front nine was a lot easier than the back,” she said. “And the weather and rain delay made me, like, stiff.”

Witt turned in a birdie and a par back-to-back at the end of the front nine for her best holes of the day and was able to keeping grinding as “I think a lot of the girls thought they were going to shoot better.”

Walker said she kept reminding the Mustangs about the unknown in a new classification and it worked. Sowitch shot 111 and Gross 112.

“A lot of the scores could be higher,” Walker said before tee off and it was true. It also gave the inexperienced Mustangs better opportunity.

A freshman, Sowitch’s first foray into postseason golf was successful “and really fun, and I’m really excited. I worked hard for it.”

Sarah Hwang of St. Mary’s fired a brilliant 4-under-par 68 to take top individual honors. She won by five strokes over Kent Denver’s Charlotte Hillary, who was 1-over. Witt’s effort was good for ninth. Sowitch was 19th and Gross 20th.

Teamwise, Kent Denver, which took individual sports 2 through 5, walked to the team title with plus-23 239. The Sun Devils were regular challengers in 4A. Host Elizabeth was next but way back at 299. The Classical Academy was third (302) and Mullen fourth (318).

Team was the relevant word for the Mustangs. They were in a new group, noted Witt, as “I had never seen any of these girls before,” other than those on Kent Denver.

However, dropping down into a new class “probably gives us a good chance since we played in a higher (league, the Centennial).”

Entering the regional, Walker said, “I was fairly, cautiously optimistic. The girls still had to persevere and compete. I knew the scores would be high and they would not be discouraged if they had some bad holes, and to never give up. Ashley told them that. And the challenging weather …

“And two weeks to get ready? One exciting opportunity is The Classical Academy will have a tournament at the Air Force Academy. So that will be an opportunity the Wednesday before state and be a good way to stay competitive and have something to play toward and keep the competitive juices flowing.”

The array of conflicts at the end of the school year will be testing, Walker said, but going to state as a team “makes it more special when you have your teammates there.”

 

CLASS 3A REGION 2

At Spring Valley G.C.

Par 72

Top teams – Kent Denver 239; Elizabeth 299; The Classical Academy 302; Mullen 318; Burlington 330.

 Top individuals – Sarah Hwang, St. Mary’s, 68; Charlotte Hillary, Kent Denver, 73; Marin Halvorsen, Kent Denver, 82; Sadie Mauger, Kent Denver, 84; Austine Jobe, Kent Denver, 85.

Mullen – Meghan Witt, 95; Paige Sowitch, 111; Morgan Gross, 112; Melicia Robles, 116.

 

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