COLORADO SPRINGS – In the best of conditions, making a golf ball move in a desired manner is a difficult task. So on a windy day at the Country Club of Colorado, it wasn’t a shock to see Ava Schroeder’s hand gesturing in either direction as a few of her shots drifted offline.

But she battled the Pete Dye track in the southern part of the city and walked away a winner as she shot a 2-over-par 73 to win the individual title at the Cheyenne Mountain Invite.

Her Red-Tailed Hawks teammates also put together solid rounds to help the team finish first. The overall score of 355 strokes (this was a play-five, score-four event) was tied with Discovery Canyon. The Hawks won the tiebreaker by the fifth score on the team.

But it was a clear indication that no matter how early in the season, there are plenty of players and teams ready to play top-level golf this spring.

“The golf course is tough anyway, without the conditions,” Cheyenne Mountain coach John Carricato said. “Then you throw in the 20 mph wind and the golf course becomes and significant test and the cream rises.”

That was evident as the round played out with Schroeder and Discovery Canyon’s Emily Cheng hovering around even par for much of the day, despite the increasing winds.

For a moment it looked like they’d make the turn within a shot of each other. Schroeder’s tee shot drifted left and sat mere inches out of bounds. She took her drop and hit her third shot just short of the green.

“You just have to take it a shot at a time and not let your previous shot affect the next one,” she said.

She took her own advice. Visibly frustrated she took her time analyzing the break of green and ultimately decided a chip shot was a better play than trying to putt.

It paid off as the ball tracked its way toward the flagstick, dropping for her most unconventional par of the day. That kept her at 1-under.

(Dan Mohrmann/

Cheng started the hole sitting at 2-over and piped her tee shot into the middle of the fairway. She hit her approach inside of 20 feet and sank her birdie putt.

Both players saw some struggles on the back-9, particularly on 11 where Cheng made bogey while Schroeder four-putted for triple.

But in that moment, her competitive spirit took hold. She bombed a drive down the fairway of the par-5 12th and hit the green in two, earning an easy birdie. She came right back to birdie 13 getting back to even on the day.

She made three straight pars before the wind really picked up, resulting in bogeys on 17 and 18. That in itself wasn’t unique as Cheng finished the same way to shoot a 76 on the day.

“The wind was almost blowing me over,” Schroeder said.

This was just Schroeder’s third tournament of the year and her first win. She finished in a tie for sixth at the DPS Invite at Denver City Park and second at the Cilly Chili at Eagle Trace.

According to the iWanamaker rankings, Schroeder is the 10th-ranked player in the state in all classifications. She’s the No. 2 player in Class 4A, right behind Erie’s Hadley Ashton, the defending state champion. Schroeder has hopes of competing for and winning a state tile this spring, but knows the competition is going to be tough.

“Hadley is young, but she’s still so good,” Schroeder said.

But that won’t stop her from doing everything she can to become Cheyenne Mountain’s second individual girls golf champion in school history.

“She has a lot of grit,” Carricato said. “She’s a gutsy player that has really matured to the point where what happened on 11 doesn’t affect the next couple of holes. And you see that as she goes birdie-birdie.”

That’s a good way to recover from a bad hole and a good way to compete all season long. Make more birdies.

Three players get into red numbers Monday

As most teams returned to action following their spring breaks, the spring weather made its presence known. Across the state, winds picked up as girls were eying tournament wins.

In nine varsity tournaments, just three players broke par the entire day.

At the 5A Continental League Tournament at South Suburban, Mountain Vista’s Abby Aeschleman finished at the top of the leaderboard at 3-under (69). Rock Canyon’s Ashleigh Wilson came in second with a 71.

Erie’s Ashton did her played up to her standards, shooting 2-under (68) at Lake Valley to win the first Front Range tournament of the year.