ESPN Challenge Comes to La Veta
LA VETA- The ESPN regional qualifying round to find the best twosome in the nation held one of their twelve qualifying rounds at Grandote Peaks Country Club this past Saturday. The best twosome that day was Grandote’s own Frieda Lessar and Jack Digrado scoring a net low score of 57. Ten teams of two participated in this unique tournament in which each pair played their own ball, but the lowest score of the two on each hole was marked. To add a uniqueness to play, the teams utilized a ‘‘wheel your foursome” format whereby everyone in the foursome was paired with one another. The final outcome resulted in thirty-six pairs vying for the top prize. Top prize for the lowest gross score went to Tom Schultz and Tom Tapia who shot a 65. Second place gross score honors belong to Dave Middleton and Jim West of La Veta. They shot 68. Second place net went to Bill Harmon of Colorado Springs, who also makes his home in La Veta, and Neal Cocco. The four winning twosomes will travel to Morrison, CO on August 25 for a chance at competing in the national finals to be held in Las Vegas in October to determine the best amateur twosome in the nation.
Players from as far away as Denton, Texas; Westminster; Colorado Springs; the San Luis Valley; Pueblo and Trinidad displayed their skills hoping to earn a chance to move on in competition. Those who failed to qualify can also participate in any one of the other eleven qualifying events as long as they pay the entrance fee.
Lessar and her original team partner, Carolene Folse, were the only two women in the tournament. Lessar, who had a pair of birdies on the back nine, said she shot the best she’s played in a long time. She then pulled out a divot repair tool she found on number 10, the first hole she shot below par. The tool was marked Red Rocks Country Club which is the host course for the state qualifying event. She said, “It must be a good omen.” The other members of her foursome concurred. Jack Digrado, who shot the second-best round of the group said of Lessar, “She was hitting the ball a mile and her approach shots were on line. It was a pleasure watching her play.”
According to Dave Lewis, the golf pro at Walking Stick in Pueblo who helped score the tournament, “Your two qualifying teams have a real chance of taking it all. Our champs didn’t score this well.” It remains to be seen, just how well these eight players will fare against the best players from Colorado. If they are on their game, perhaps we will see them in Las Vegas this October. They will have several chances to warm up as the next big tournament slated for Grandote is the Open on July 12-13.
Traveling Team is a Hit
WALSENBURG- The Longhorns, Walsenburg’s traveling independent Babe Ruth baseball team, has been putting on a lot of miles this summer, traveling the state and gaining experience. As the saying goes, this is America’s favorite pastime and these kids, who range in age from 13-15, are having a memorable summer. The team is not a part of the Walsenburg Recreation Department and has been playing ball on their own under the supervision of coach Chuck Smithey, facing other independent teams. According to Smithey, “I want to give these kids the opportunity to play as much ball as they can. I’d like to see them have more games under their belts before they participate in the state Babe Ruth tournament later this summer.” In fact, most of these kids just want to play ball. Many players are also members of the city’s recreational league and will be participating in the state playoffs. The Longhorns are not eligible for state playoff action because they are considered a club team and not part of a recognized league.
Smithey is pleased he is getting the support of Mike Vigil, the city’s recreation director, who has been helpful in resolving scheduling conflicts. Some of the coaches are accommodating, while there are a few others who don’t agree with Smithy’s approach. His kids will have played over thirty games this summer while the league teams may, at best, play 14 or 15. The level of competition these kids are facing is strong. They are facing pitchers tossing fastballs at over 80 miles per hour. Smithey commented that the first time they played the team from Penrose they lost 19-1, but a few weeks later, they faced them again in a tournament and held their own, losing 5-1 and 6-2, a fair improvement from their previous encounter. “The kids are having fun,” Smithey said, “that’’s what this is about. All credit goes to the kids.”
The team expenses are picked up by the coaches and community businesses. According to Smithey, Antique Avenue has purchased the uniforms and pays for a a lot of the traveling expenses. These kids have done a great job. When it’s all said and done, all we can say is, “good job boys, the eyes of Walsenburg are upon you.