James wins first-ever varsity tourneyAug 29, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
For the past three seasons, Jorden James has toiled tirelessly for the Riverton Wolverines golf squad, as the Big Red swingers won the three most recent of their four consecutive Class 4-A boys state golf championships.
However, he had never lifted an individual winning trophy in his career.
Until Friday, that is, when James finally hoisted the hardware after claiming the crown at the Star Valley Invitational in Afton.
The Riverton senior topped the field with a first-round 74, then followed that up with a final-round 71 for a two-day total of 145, good for an 11-shot victory over the field on the par-70, 6,017-yard layout of the Valley View Golf Course.
According to Wolverines head coach Lars Flanagan, James was a deserving winner.
"Jordan's played six competitive rounds this season and has really kept his head on straight," said Flanagan. "He hasn't gotten frustrated at all and has remained very calm."
Of course, there's not much to be upset about when you've posted a third, second and a first in the season's first three events.
After playing in the shadow of the Wolverines' "Big Three" of Easton Paxton, Alec Richardson and Jayd Dion for the past three years, James has embraced the role of Big Red's top gun in his senior season, said Flanagan.
"Jorden's always had the skill," he said. "But, now, he's matured to the point of putting it all together."
Like all golfers, James still has aspects of his game to improve, despite his obvious strengths, said Flanagan.
"Jorden's good around the greens," he said. "But, he still tends to fly his driver all over the place a bit, so we're working with him on focusing on accuracy over distance."
Flanagan said the biggest difference for James this season as opposed to years past is he's more comfortable now than ever in his own skin on the course.
"He's more assured with his game now," he said. "But, he's been playing at the highest level since his sophomore year."
Riverton's boys finished second as a team with a combined score of 340-333-673, behind winners Star Valley, who carded a 331-320-651.
Kellen Miller finished fifth with a score of 73-83-161 and also impressed Flanagan with his poise under pressure.
"Kellen's not used to being in the mix, as this is his first year of varsity golf," he said. "His score on the second day wasn't as good as the first, but he did well. In fact, I was pleased with all of our players."
Especially pleasing was the fact his squad posted a lower score the second day than in the opening round, said Flanagan.
"I'm feeling very comfortable with where we are as a team right now," he said. "I like what we're doing and where we're headed."
Braxton Fehring (100-85-185, 26th), Cameron Schoening (93-94-187, 28th) and Konnor Gaston (95-95-190, 31st) rounded out the field for the Wolverines.
Shelby Watson fired an 87-90-177 for a third-place finish, including her first-ever eagle in high-school competition for the RHS girls.
"Shelby played very well on the first day," said Flanagan. "She's been around the block enough to minimize her bad holes."
The Lady Wolverines finished third as a team with a score of 289-308-597, behind host Star Valley's 279-282-561.
Katie Davis added a ninth-place finish with a score of 95-101-196, along with Jade Martinez (107-118-225, 14th), Sierra Brubaker (119-117-236, 17th) and Julia Masson (120-119-239, 18th).
Flanagan was happy with how all his girls responded, as they move forward, he said.
"We know Shelby's going to play well, so we don't need the others to be spectacular, just solid," said Flanagan. "It was Sierra's first varsity tournament and she did very well."
Due to the short nature of golf season, his charges are already halfway through their schedule.
"We're already preparing ourselves to make sure we're ready for conference and state," said Flanagan. "The challenge mentally is to not waste strokes on the course."
Next for the Wolverines is the Rock Springs Invitational on Thursday and Friday.