Pair of Wolverine golfers finish top 10Sep 7, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
Shelby Watson will be heading off to the Class 3-A West regional golf tournament in Cody on Thursday and Friday with her Lady Wolverines teammates to compete for trophies in advance of the state tourney in Douglas on Sept. 15-16.
So, the Rock Springs Invitational last week was her final chance to tune up her swing before the business end of the current campaign begins.
Against a field packed with some of the best golfers from across the entire state, including Class 4-A competition, Watson finished ninth after posting a score of 93-91-184 on the rugged par-72, 7,062-yard White Mountain layout.
Wolverines head coach Lars Flanagan said the course provided quite a challenge for the players.
"They really lengthen the course out," he said. "Plus, there's a lot of slope in the greens, so unless you're below the hole, you have to worry about running putts past the hole. Not to mention, if you miss the fairway, you're right in the sagebrush."
The Lady Wolverine was the highest-finishing Class 3-A golfer, as Annalyse Johnson of Kelly Walsh won with a score of 82-85-167, leading a Casper sweep of the top seven spots, including Natrona, with the Lady Trojans taking the team title at 503, 18 shots ahead of the runner-up Fillies.
Flanagan said Watson can do better and she knows it.
"Shelby played well, but she was disappointed," he said. "We're working on eliminating the one or two bad holes she has in each tournament."
Riverton failed to produce a team score.
On the boys side, Jorden James continued his strong senior season with a ninth-place finish after firing a 75-81-156.
James could easily have been in contention for the title if not for a misadventure in Friday's opening round which saw him post a 13 on the par-5 No. 4.
"If Jorden pars that hole, he wins the tournament," said Flanagan. "But, I'm proud of how he fought on because he easily could've packed it in at that point."
While the girls will contest regionals in Cody, the boys, who compete in Class 4-A, will also play in Cody as a guest participant this week, then go right to the state tournament in Evanston on Sept. 15-16, with the Class 4-A West regional tourney held during the spring season.
Kellen Miller finished 14th for Riverton with a card of 86-82-168, while teammates Cameron Schoening was 27th (91-88-179), Konnor Gaston was 38th (100-87-187) and Vinnie Dolbow was 55th (117-103-220).
Miller struggled a bit with his putting in the opening round, but James was there for his teammate, said Flanagan.
"Kellen's been striking the ball really well, but he's been having trouble on the greens," he said. "So, after the first round, Jorden helped him out on the practice green, which seemed to help."
The Wolverines finished fifth in the 12-team field with a score of 690, behind winners Kelly Walsh, who posted a 600 for the event.
The Trojans' Taj Sutherland (72-77-149) and Cheyenne East's Blake Danni (73-76-149) finished even atop the board for the event.
In fact, despite James' ninth, he was only seven shots off the lead when the smoke cleared due to a closely-bunched pack which saw the top 10 golfers separated by only eight shots.
Back on the girls' side of the event, Riverton's Katie Davis finished 12th with a 103-88-191, the only other Lady Wolverine in the field.
According to Flanagan, the sophomore trio of Gaston, Schoening and Davis performed well in their respective first big events against top-rate competition.
"All of them did really well," said Flanagan. "In fact, they all shot their best rounds of the season on Friday."
Having the boys -- who don't have a conference tournament in the fall -- play against Class 3-A competition in Cody was a decision which was made mostly for the future, said Flanagan.
"Next year, we're going to be in Class 3-A," he said. "So, I want them to see what it's going to be like."
As the season winds down toward its conclusion, Flanagan has been happy with how his squad has progressed all along the way, he said.
"After every week this season, I've been pleased with our results," said Flanagan. "I want them to understand how they've all really improved and have confidence."