Junior Alec Claassen just needed an improvement of one stroke to enter the tie for first place in Cedaredge on Friday. Instead, he tied for fifth and finished in fourth on his own team and did not factor into the scoring.
Basalt kicked off the 2022-23 prep sports schedule with a bang Friday, its boys golf team winning the first contest on the schedule, the Cedaredge Invitational, by a large margin. The Longhorns finished the day with 229 strokes, 25 ahead of second-place Summit. Not too shabby for a team that hasn’t played the course before, Basalt head coach Travis Stewart said, but was still expected, he admitted.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Stewart said, who didn’t actually travel with the team to Cedaredge due to a work conflict. “We have a great core of sophomores and juniors that are good golfers and they’re great young men and they can perform at a high level. It’s cool to see them all do it at the same time.”
Sophomore Jackson Stewart and juniors Jase Joslin and Garrett Exelbert each had 76 strokes, tying with Moffat County’s Aron Jennings for the best mark of the day. In boys golf, only a team’s top three scores are used for the team leaderboard.
Basalt’s dominance was such that Claassen, who was one stroke off from being in first place in the tournament, didn’t do well enough to factor in his team’s overall scoring.
“It’s a good stepping stone to build on for sure,” Stewart said. “I think it mostly just gets the individual confidence of the players up.”
Joclin started with a six-stroke on the four-par Hole 14 to start his day, but shot par or better on his final six holes, including a birdie on Hole 12, his penultimate round. Stewart was sitting at 6-over entering his final four holes, but collected two birdies to climb up into the top spot with his teammates. Exelbert had no birdies or better, but only exceeded par four times, each just a bogey. Claassen started at a 1-over but hit par on his next five holes. Four bogeys in five holes set him off the leading pace, but he got back in the race with a three-stroke birdie. He hit par on his final six holes.
Junior Ian Cole, who is still learning varsity golf, landed at 98 strokes.
The Basalt team is a composite of Basalt, Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs high schools. Joslin, Exelbert, Claassen and Cole all attend Glenwood while Stewart, Travis’ son, attends Roaring Fork.
According to IWanamaker data, only four teams competed in last year’s Cedaredge Invitational, but the results bode well for the Longhorns. Aspen won the event, matching Cedaredge’s 262 strokes, before going on to win the 3A state championship.
This year, Aspen lost Nic Pevny, who finished third in the state championship, and William Stiller to graduation. The team still finished fourth in the much-larger Cedaredge Invitational — 15 teams were scored, including four 4A squads and two 5A.
For the Skiers, sophomore Ryan Rigney tied for seventh with 80 strokes. Senior Carson Miller tied for 11th with 82, freshman Leo Roennau stroked 89 for a tie for 17th and junior Sasha Forman stroked 91 to tie for 22nd as the Skiers began their title defense.
With some competitions scheduled next week, Aspen will host a tournament on Aug. 15 and Basalt will host the next day.
The Cedaredge Invitational marked the opening of the high school sports season locally. Boys golf is the only sport currently sanctioned to begin competitions by the Colorado High School Activities Association, which was allowed starting on Thursday. Boys tennis and softball are allowed to begin games starting Aug. 11.