Steamboat boys golf sets high goals after dominant start to season

Steamboat Springs High School junior golfer Jeremy Nolting tees off at hole 16 at the 2021 4A State Golf Championships at City Park Golf Course. Nolting is one of three returning state-qualifiers this fall and has helped the Sailors win their first three events this season.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Winning the first three tournaments of the year, the Steamboat Springs boys golf team could not be off to a hotter start. 

The team began the season with a victory at Rifle Golf Course in early August and built off of that with more victories at the Aspen and River Valley Ranch tournaments in mid-August. 

Head coach Andrew Donner sees the potential his players have and is excited by all of the returning experience. He believes in this team and has set a high ceiling for them, with goals of winning both the regional and state tournaments. 

“Not that I’m trying to put any pressure on the kids, but I think when they play good golf they can really compete with any team out there,” Donner said. 

A Steamboat athlete has taken the overall victory in each of the three tournaments so far this fall and the team has combined for eight top-three finishes. 

Senior Colin Kagan won in both Rifle and Aspen with senior Jeremy Nolting earning the honor most recently at River Valley Ranch. Junior Michael DiNapoli has also made his mark with a top-three finish in each tournament.

Kagan is coming off the best year of his golf career having won regionals as a junior. Kagan hopes to repeat as regionals champion and compete for a top-five finish in state while helping his team do the same.

Steamboat Springs boys golf coach Andrew Donner with varsity players, Charlie Thompson, Jeremy Nolting, Michael DiNapoli and Colin Kagan at River Valley Ranch golf tournament on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022.
Karin Kagan/Courtesy photo

“I’m confident for the rest of the year,” Kagan said. “I think we’ll have a good run at regionals and states and hopefully can get a lot more wins throughout the season.”

The experience level of this team has been a major factor already in the season. They are able to stay poised and Donner says they look more comfortable than ever as they approach the tee. 

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“I wouldn’t say in all cases they played their best golf, but they got the ball in the hole, which is the name of the game and I think that’s what these kids are getting better and better at,” Donner said.  “Even when they’re not playing their best, they find a way to get the ball up and down, not make a huge mistake and get the ball in the hole. That’s such a big thing in the game of golf.”

On top of the incredible senior and junior talent that the team brings, there was a major boom in freshman interest this season, making it the largest golf team in Steamboat Springs history. 

Senior Colin Kagan and junior Michael DiNapoli celebrate their first- and second-place finishes at the 2022 Skiers Invitational in Aspen on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Karin Kagan/Courtesy photo

Thirteen freshmen and six sophomores make up nearly 60% of the entire 32-player program. This will likely call for an extremely competitive future for Steamboat Springs.

This season will be Donner’s last as coach of the golf team and to prepare for a transition and to keep up with the high number of players, the team has brought in a few new coaches to help out. 

“I think they’re gonna be great and I think we’ve got a lot of good energy with new coaches coming on board,” Donner said. “Moving forward in the future, when you’ve got 19 freshmen and sophomores, you’ve gotta feel pretty good. They just need some experience, learn a little bit and things along those lines. It bodes well for the future.”

A Colin Kagan stroke at the Rifle tournament on Aug. 8, 2022.
Karin Kagan/Courtesy Photo
Colin Kagan and Jeremy Nolting celebrating their first and second-place finishes at the Rifle golf tournament on Aug. 9, 2022.
Karin Kagan/Courtesy Photo
Colin Kagan walking down a fairway at Aspen Golf Club on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Karin Kagan/Courtesy photo
Golfers gather at the Rifle golf tournament on Aug. 9, 2022.
Karin Kagan/Courtesy photo

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