Jack Castiglia of Lakewood capped off his junior golf career in fine fashion on Wednesday, rallying from 3 down on the back nine in the boys final to claim the title in the Colorado Junior Match Play, a victory that narrowly eluded him the past two years.
And Lauren Lehigh of Loveland defeated two of the state's top girls golfers on the same day to earn the girls championship at Plum Creek Golf Club in Castle Rock.
Making it all the sweeter, it was the first Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado major title for both Castiglia and Lehigh, who won four matches in two days to earn the trophy.
Castiglia (left), a semifinalist in this event in 2016 and a finalist last year, defeated Tyler Severin of Johnstown, 2 and 1 in the boys final as Severin hit two balls into the water at both 16 and 17 after the match was all square through 15.
On the girls side, Lehigh beat 2017 JGAC Girls Player of the Year -- and 2016 Colorado Junior Match Play champion -- Hailey Schalk of Erie in the title match, 4 and 3. Lehigh, 17, finished off the match by hitting a 4 hybrid from 210 yards to inches from the cup for an eagle on the 15th hole, where the match ended.
Earlier Tuesday in the semifinals, Lehigh posted another 4 and 3 victory over Charlotte Hillary of Englewood, who went to the match play round of 32 at the California Women's Amateur Championship last week.
In the boys final, Severin made three birdies on the front nine, including a 45-footer on No. 8, to make the turn at 3 up. And Castiglia didn't help his cause by missing a 2-foot par putt on No. No. 7.
But things turned on the back nine. Severin, a University of Wyoming signee who played in the CoBank Colorado Open last week, three-putted the 10th and 14th holes, and Castliglia made eagle on 11 with a 55-foot putt. That evened the match after 14. Both players two-putted for birdie on No. 15 for a halve.
Then Severin pushed his tee shot and his third shot into the water that borders the entire right side of No. 16, falling behind for the first time in the match. And after Castiglia hit a good tee shot on the par-3 17th, Severin put two more balls into the water short of the green and conceded the match to his 17-year-old University of Northern Colorado-bound opponent, in both players' final junior golf tournament.
The girls final was a matchup of two of the four players who represented Colorado last week in the Girls Junior Americas Cup at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen. The finalists were all square after four holes, but Lehigh (left) won the next three, making 15-foot birdie putts on Nos. 5 and 7 and prevailing with a par on No. 6.
Schalk, winner of this event in 2016, cut the deficit to 1 down by winning No. 9 with a par and No. 11 with a birdie. But Lehigh, the 2017 4A state high school champion, won 12 and 13 with pars, then she closed out the match on No. 15, where her 210-yard 4 hybrid from the rough ended up a couple of inches from the hole for an eagle.
Earlier on Wedesday, Schalk had needed 23 holes to defeat 14-year-old Kaylee Chen of Denver. Chen three-putted the 18th hole, missing a two-foot par putt, to prolong the match. Then after halving the first four extra holes with par, Schalk won on the fifth with a par when Chen got into trouble down the left side.
Check back later for reaction and more photos and details from Wednesday.
Colorado Junior Match Play
At Plum Creek GC in Castle Rock
Tyler Severin of Johnstown def. Jack Hughes of Aspen, 5 and 4
Jack Castiglia of Lakewood def. Christopher Kennedy of Aurora, 4 and 3
Jack Castiglia of Lakewood def. Tyler Severin of Johnstown, 2 and 1
Lauren Lehigh of Loveland def. Charlotte Hillary of Englewood, 4 and 3
Hailey Schalk of Erie def. Kaylee Chen of Denver, 23 holes
Lauren Lehigh of Loveland def. Hailey Schalk of Erie, 4 and 3