Palmer Ridge, Pine Creek girls shoot school-best golf finishes

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Photo - Pine Creek's Elly Carlson watches her drive during the final round of the 4A Girls State Golf that was held at Colorado National Golf Course on Tuesday May 23, 2017 in Erie, Colorado.  Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette.
Pine Creek's Elly Carlson watches her drive during the final round of the 4A Girls State Golf that was held at Colorado National Golf Course on Tuesday May 23, 2017 in Erie, Colorado. Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette.

ERIE - Palmer Ridge's Kellsey Sample and Pine Creek's Elly Carlson sealed a career and legacy with one last rattle of the cup Tuesday.

Moving up the leader board on the final day of the 4A state golf tournament at the Colorado National Golf Club, Sample and Carlson both finished inside the top 10, the best state tournament performance in their respective program's histories.

Sample finished sixth with a two-day score of 19-over 163, while Carlson tied Cheyenne Mountain junior Maxine Choi for eighth at 166.

Carlson summed up the scene best: "Lot of hugs, lots of tears."

The Eagles senior shot an 82 as the Eagles finished a program-best sixth at 124-over 556.

Carlson started the tournament with a fore! - as in four strokes over par after her first hole Monday. But she ended the tournament strong - including three pars and a birdie on four of her final six holes - to etch out a spot in the top 10.

"That was the finishing touch," she said.

Two weeks ago, Carlson won a region title with an even-par 71 at the Country Club of Colorado. It was the lowest score ever shot by a girl golfer at Pine Creek, per coach Shane Brown.

"She's the best golfer in program history," he said matter-of-factly.

Kellsey Sample of Palmer Ridge smiles after she sinks her putt during the final round of the 4A Girls State Golf that was held at Colorado National Golf Course on Tuesday May 23, 2017 in Erie, Colorado. Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette. 

Sample was the last area golfer off the course, and like Carlson, she showed the ability to overcome the rough.

Already seven strokes above par by No. 7, the CSU-Pueblo commit settled in as her college coach, Josh Koschke, looked on. She ended her round with four pars and a birdie for 82.

"That was really cool," Sample said of Koschke's presence. "It made me a little nervous. I was like this is my coach next year, but he was awesome. The support was awesome."

Sample rolled in a six-foot putt for par on No. 18 and almost immediately was taken over by emotion. Just off the green, she embraced her younger sister, Ashlee, who tied for 11th (170).

"She is my role model," Ashlee said, fighting back tears. "It's just so hard to see her go."

With the Samples leading the way, Palmer Ridge won its league and region and finished eighth (560) at the state tournament.

"They mean a tremendous amount (to the team)," said 23-year-old Palmer Ridge assistant coach Josh Cronk, who coached Kellsey on the course this season. "All of the girls look up to them. They ask those two for advice."

Lauren Lehigh two-putted to win her first state title for Loveland, which also won the team title at 475.

Also in the top 20: Liberty's Sarah MacDonald was 15th (173), Cheyenne Mountain's Casey Fetters 16th (176), Air Academy's Isabell Deak tied for 17th (177) and Coronado's Kate Griffin tied for 20th (178).