ASPEN – Maddy Bante is planning on playing golf for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, so it makes sense that she’s learning to fight now.

The St. Mary’s Academy junior and defending Class 3A girls golf state champion overcame a tough start on the front 9 to shoot a 3-over-par 74 to take the individual lead after the first round of the state tournament at Aspen Golf Club.

“I definitely got in my own head,” Bante said. “I was able to think about all the people here supporting me and bring myself back and I knew exactly what I was doing.”

She made just one birdie on the front side which came on the par-4 sixth. Things got dicey on the narrow 10th hole and she made her second double-bogey in a row to move to 6-over. She then played the final eight holes 3-under as Peak to Peak’s Noelle Thompson, who had the lead at that point, fell back a few strokes.

Bante’s lead over Thompson heading into the final round is three strokes.

“I don’t mind being four back,” Thompson said. “I love coming from behind.”

That’s what she’s going to have to do. The last two 3A girls state tournaments, Bante has been the 18-hole leader. She let it slip away her freshman year at Elmwood but learned her lesson and held on to win the state title a year ago at the Broadlands in Broomfield.

She’s been on this stage she knows how to close things out, the biggest task now is not getting in her own head like she did at the start of Round 1 on Tuesday.

“This whole year has been kind of a tricky road,” Bante said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs and I think that I’ve learned lots of lessons from perseverance and that helped my with this round.”

On the team side, home course advantage is very much a things for Aspen. The Skiers are tied with St. Mary’s Academy at 263 strokes for the team lead.

(Dan Mohrmann/

The Wildcats are the two-time defending team champions and are trying to make it three in a row. If Aspen can hang on it would be the first team championship for the girls. The boys have two state titles, both of which have come since 2018.

But the fortune of sleeping in their own beds, not traveling and knowing the course is certainly an advantage for the host school.

“The girls didn’t feel good [about their rounds] which happens in golf,” coach Shannon Worth said. “Some of them felt like they didn’t play well. Audrey (Woodrow) has been under 100 all year and she shot 100 today. Brooke (O’Sullivan) has high expectations and she’s in fifth place with an 84. She’s bummed about a bunch of three-putts and where she ended up with her total. But if you look at the whole field, everyone was doing those things.”

Which puts the advantage squarely on the Skiers, specifically from a home course advantage aspect. Sophomore Lenna Persson led the team with a 79 which is just five strokes behind Bante.

The tournament resumes at Aspen Golf Club at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.