Arapahoe High School’s boys golf team has come close the past four seasons but has yet to win a state boys golf championship. A couple senior golfers at the Littleton district school in Centennial, …
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Arapahoe High School’s boys golf team has come close the past four seasons but has yet to win a state boys golf championship.
A couple senior golfers at the Littleton district school in Centennial, Will Kates and Matt Wilkinson, hope to help change that this season.
The Warriors were second to Valor Christian last season, finishing two strokes behind the Eagles. Arapahoe was also second in 2019, three shots short of state champion Fairview.
Arapahoe was third in both 2018 and 2017.
Wilkinson, who won the Colorado Junior PGA title at the Country Club of Colorado in June and finished 10th in the 2020 CHSAA state tournament, said the team’s top goal this season is to win the state championship after the runner-up finishes the past two seasons.
Kates, the CHSAA’s 2019 individual state champion as a sophomore, feels the same.
“The one goal is to get a state championship for coach (Harry) Buckner,” he said. “He’s been coaching for a long time at Arapahoe and it would be pretty special to get him a ring my senior year.
“We finished second two years in a row. It would be pretty cool to win this year. That would be awesome. We just need four guys to play average to good rounds. That should be good enough to be near the top but it’s like limiting mistakes, try not to make those silly doubles and just play smart. Then we’ll have a good shot.”
Buckner has been coaching at Arapahoe for 51 years.
He was the head gymnastics coach one season and coached on the football team for 17 years. He was the Warriors baseball coach for 17 seasons and 10 as the head coach. He guided the Warriors to the 1980 state baseball title. He helped coach the hockey team for eight seasons and has been with the golf team for 32 years and the head coach for the past 22 campaigns.
Besides Wilkinson and Kates, the Warriors also return Grant Juergens, Max Zadvorny and Jackson Smith to compete this season, which began on Aug. 5.
Kates, who carded a 4-under-par 66 to win on the final day of the 2019 state championship at Pinehurst Country Club, was 13th in last season’s state meet.
“Yeah, winning the state championship was a lot of fun,” said Kates. “It was a great experience for sure. I didn’t play awesome last year. A guy from Valor made an eagle putt on the 18th hole to win both the individual and team titles. We were like two shots off. It could have gone either way, it just didn’t go our way.
“I felt like I improved every time I played this summer. I take away something from every tournament and try to get a little bit better every week. Obviously it would be good to win another state championship but that really doesn’t matter as long as we can win the team. Individual is not that important to me.”
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