Under pressure, two Sailors advance to boys golf state tournament
Steamboat Springs senior Michael DiNapoli held a one-stroke lead Wednesday morning as he walked to the 17th green at Bookcliff Country Club in Grand Junction with the regional tournament on the line.
DiNapoli lined up the 15-foot putt and, with a light tap, drained it to maintain sole possession of first place heading into the final hole. It was at that moment DiNapoli knew he would become the 4A Region 4 Regional Tournament champion.
This was familiar territory for DiNapoli, who had already won three tournaments this season. Regionals would count as his fourth and the most important. He finished the round with a 73, two strokes over par.
“Last year I would have been dying of nerves,” DiNapoli said. “I might have even choked the tournament, but this year I was more focused. On the last hole waiting in the fairway, I was focusing on my breathing and focusing on putting myself in a position to win and just executing.”
DiNapoli’s teammate senior Charlie Reisman navigated the regional with a similar weight on his shoulders. Reisman was not in contention to win the tournament, but he was on the fringe of qualifying for state.
Only 84 players get to qualify for the state tournament with each of the four regions sending 21 golfers. Eight state qualifiers are made up of the four players from the top two teams in the region. The remaining 13 come from individual placement at regionals.
Coming off the No. 18 hole with a bogey, Reisman was in a four-way tie for the final two spots at state. The group would take on the par-four ninth hole to determine the qualifiers. Reisman had parred the hole earlier in the tournament, but this time there was a lot more pressure.
“The first three guys I was with stuck it to 10 feet, so stepping up to that iron shot in the middle of the fairway, my arms were shaking a little bit,” Reisman said. “I put it to 11 feet. The first guy putted and missed. Then I made mine and it was pretty sweet.”
Reisman is a five-sport athlete and manages a busy fall schedule while playing for both the soccer and football teams, as well as golf. He said advancing to state from that playoff hole was the biggest moment of his athletic career.
Along with DiNapoli and Reisman at regionals were senior Brady Adams and junior Jack Fisher. Adams closed out his high school golf career with a 29th overall finish, shooting an 85. Fisher shot a 96 for 55th place.
As a team, Steamboat finished in a tie for fifth, two strokes short of the top-two finish needed to advance to state as a team.
DiNapoli and Reisman both earned nearly two weeks of practice ahead of the two-day state tournament, which begins Oct. 2 at Bridges Golf and Country Club in Montrose.
Head coach Josh Dunahoe will take his two players to as many courses and rounds as he can before the tournament tees off. They will even have a chance to practice Bridges the day before state.
“I want to get them to the peak of their performance as much as I can,” Dunahoe said. “They did such a great job at the home tournament and then at the regional. Their confidence and abilities are there. They just need to continue to deliver.”
DiNapoli and Reisman have played golf together for over six years. Reisman said he is grateful to play one last time competitively with his golfing buddy before heading to college.
DiNapoli said his confidence is at an all-time high right now. He had a top-30 finish in the state tournament last year but plans to make an even bigger splash to close out his senior season.
“I think I can win it this year,” DiNapoli said. “That is my goal.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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