From a Colorado perspective, the Junior America's Cup competitions have rightfully gained additional attention in recent years.
There are two primary reasons for that:
-- Next year's Girls Junior America's Cup -- which features 18 teams and many of the best junior players from the western U.S., Canada and Mexico -- will be contested in Colorado, at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen.
-- Colorado boys teams have been on quite a roll competitive in the Junior America's Cup, having posted four top-six finishes -- out of 18 teams -- in the last six years. That includes placing third in 2015, matching the best showing ever by a Colorado boys team, and sixth last year.
With that as a backdrop, the boys and girls teams that will represent the Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado have been finalized this month. The boys JAC will be held July 25-27 at The Home Course in Dupont, Wash., while the Girls Junior America's Cup is set for Aug. 1-3 at Reflection Bay Golf Club in Henderson, Nev., just outside Las Vegas.
Starting this year, players 18 and under who have not yet started college are eligible to participate.
The Colorado boys set to compete this year are Davis Bryant of Aurora, Cal McCoy of Highlands Ranch, Jackson Solem of Longmont and Dillon Stewart of Fort Collins.
For the girls, the Colorado team will be Charlotte Hillary of Englewood, Lauren Lehigh of Loveland, Jaclyn Murray of Grand Junction and Hailey Schalk of Erie.
Out of the eight players, three -- Bryant, Solem and Murray -- will be competing in their third Junior America's Cup. Bryant and Solem were teammates each of the past two years, while Murray played in 2014 and '16. Meanwhile, Schalk is set for her second straight GJAC appearance.
Bryant has been on a roll so far this year. The 17-year-old has won the first two JGAC majors of 2017, the Colorado Junior PGA and this week's Colorado Junior Amateur. He also qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur for the second time. And on Thursday he was the first alternate in U.S. Amateur qualifying in Fort Collins after double bogeying the final hole. Bryant has verbally committed to play his college golf at Colorado State beginning in 2018.
Solem likewise earned a spot in the U.S. Junior Amateur, as well as in next week's CoBank Colorado Open. The University of Denver signee and former 4A state high school champion also advanced to the Sectionals of U.S. Open qualifying, and he won the Big I Junior Classic for the third time. This week, he ended up second alternate at U.S. Amateur qualifying in Fort Collins.
Stewart was the runner-up to Bryant at the Colorado Junior PGA last month and qualified for both the IMG Academy Junior World Championship and the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships. He finished 52nd in the Junior Worlds.
McCoy placed third in the Colorado Junior PGA and seventh in the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior by Transamerica. He qualified for the IMG Junior World Championship and finished the first alternate in U.S. Junior Amateur qualifying.
Schalk, 15, has won three significant junior titles in Colorado in the last two months. She captured the first 3A state high school individual title, becoming the first freshman since 2002 to be a girls state high school champ. She followed that up by becoming the first Coloradan to win at the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior by Transamerica, then added the title at the Colorado Junior PGA. The 2016 Colorado Junior Match Play winner also qualified for the IMG Junior Worlds.
Hillary, the 2016 JGAC Tour Championship winner, placed second to Schalk in both the 3A state high school tournament and the AJGA Hale Irwin Colorado Junior. The 15-year-old qualified in Nebraska last month for the U.S. Girls' Junior, earning medalist honors. She was also third in the Colorado Junior PGA and qualified for the IMG Junior Worlds, where she finished 43rd. In January, she won the FCWT Classic at Half Moon Bay in California.
Lehigh won the 4A state high school title and the Big I Junior Classic over the last two months. She took fifth at the Colorado Junior PGA and qualified for both the IMG Junior Worlds and the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships.
Murray was the first Coloradan since 2015 to qualify in the state for the U.S. Girls' Junior, which will mark her second time competing in that national championship. The 18-year-old, who's headed to the University of Colorado, finished second in the Colorado Junior PGA and eighth in the CWGA Stroke Play.
At both the boys and Girls Junior America's Cup, the top three individual scores for each team count toward its team total each day.
This year will mark the 33rd appearance by a Colorado team in the boys JAC, which dates back to 1973. The Girls JAC began in 1978, with Colorado competing since the late '70s. The 1993 Colorado team captured the team title in the GJAC, with Coloradan Jennifer Kern earning the individual championship that year.