May 28, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorRiverton's four-time state champion lifted one final high school trophy at the Class 4-A West regional tournament in Casper.
Easton Paxton is one of the most decorated athletes in the history of Fremont County, having won four individual Class 4-A state golf championships, as well as the same number of team titles during his career as a Wolverine.
On May 15-16 in Casper, Paxton added one final trophy to his high school haul, as he was crowned Class 4-A West regional champion.
Paxton fired a two-day total of 134, good for a nine-shot victory over Shea Hensley of Kelly Walsh, who posted a 143.
Riverton's Jorden James was third, with a 146, while Wolverines teammate Jayd Dion finished in a tie for fourth, at 147.
As a team, Riverton was runner-up with a total of 599 to winners Kelly Walsh, who won with a score of 588.
The first round was played at Three Crowns Golf Club, while the second was at Paradise Valley Country Club.
Paxton jumped out to an early lead in the opening round, posting an eight-under-par 64, while Dion fired a 67, with James carding a 69.
Paxton's victory marked the first time he has lifted the conference silverware during his storied prep career.
The North Carolina State signee was defeated in the conference event in his freshman and junior seasons and missed it while at a national tournament his sophomore campaign.
According to Riverton head coach Lars Flanagan, it was no small feat for his golfers to tame the par-72 layout in the fashion they did and it also showed a commitment to the program, as Paxton and Dion are outgoing seniors, who will be playing at the college level in the fall.
"I appreciate Easton's loyalty to the program and his teammates," said Flanagan. "Especially seeing how he had a U.S. Open qualifier the next day."
With the absence of senior Alec Richardson, who was wrapping up track season, others were called upon to fill the void, with juniors Tayte Thomas and Treyton Paxton, who shot an opening-round 86 and 92, respectively. It's players like these who will carry the mantle next season, along with others, said Flanagan.
"I think Kellen Miller is going to be our No. 2 player after Jorden next year," he said. "We also have six young golfers in eighth and ninth grade who we're exited about."
On the girls' side, junior Shelby Miller will be the top returner for the Wolverines.
Historically, Flanagan has used the spring season to prepare for the fall, which makes the fact it culminates with the conference tournament a bit awkward, he said.
"I look at spring season like spring football," said Flanagan. "It's a chance to get ready for the fall."
Flanagan said the timing of the tourney provides a unique atmosphere for veterans to mingle with young players.
"At one point, Easton and a freshman from Kelly Walsh, Taj Sunderland were playing together," he said. "They were walking down the fairway just talking about golf -- that's what high-school golf is all about."
Although the magnificent four-year run for his swingers has now come to an end, Flanagan is optimistic for the future, he said.
"This group we've had have been some of the hardest-working athletes in Riverton history," said Flanagan.
"What that has done is show the young players what you can accomplish wit that kind of work ethic."
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.