By Breanne Thiel
The Powell High School golf team competed in Afton for their 3A West Conference Tournament. The Panthers placed third, their best team showing of the season. Both Crandell Sanders and Mycah Wainscott earned All-Conference honors in their 10th place finishes.
The conference tournament was held Friday, September 7th and Saturday, September 8th.
“We had a very nice showing at our Conference tournament in Afton,” said head coach Troy Hildebrand. “The Valley View Course is a really fun course for kids and offers a chance to shoot some good scores as it is a little shorter than most of the courses we see and is also a par 70 instead of 72.”
The Panthers took third place shooting 337 on Friday and 350 on Saturday.
“We posted eight rounds between 79 and 89 over the two days which is exactly what we needed to do to earn a trophy this year,” Hildebrand said of the team.
Lander ran away with the title shooting 298 on Friday and 309 on Saturday and Star Valley was a solid second place finish shooting 307 on Friday and 323 on Saturday.
“We were neck in neck with Cody over the two days as they put together their best showing of the year as well,” Hildebrand added of the team scores.
Cody placed fourth shooting 344 on Friday and 356 on Saturday.
Sanders, a junior shot 79 on Friday and 88 on Saturday to tie for 10th place – which earned him All Conference honors.
“[Sanders] earned his first All-Conference honor behind a career best 79 [score on] Friday. Saturday he had some ups and downs in his round but he did enough down the stretch to hold off the 11th place finisher by a single shot,” said Hildebrand. “He finished both rounds by making a significant putt which proved to be the difference for him. This should provide some nice momentum for [Sanders] as we head to Riverton.”
Riverton is where the 3A State Tournament will be held.
Senior Rob Sessions shot 84 on Friday and 85 on Saturday.
“[Sessions] posted two more rounds in the mid 80’s and just missed a top ten finish of his own by two shots,” said Hildebrand.
Sessions placed 14th out of the 35 golfers.
“He is doing a lot of things well and playing the most consistent golf of his four-year varsity career,” Hildebrand continued of Sessions. “Each day [Sessions] had two or three holes where he found some trouble and that was really all that kept him from being right around 80. He is in a great spot heading to state.”
Senior Bennett Walker shot 86 on Friday and 88 on Saturday.
“[Walker] had his career best two day total this week and did a great job of keeping his round together each day,” Hildebrand sadi. “[Walker] is a very good player and when he gets his short game going he can shoot some very good scores. His straight hitting should be an asset in Riverton.”
Sophomore George Higgins shot 88 on Friday and 89 on Saturday.
“In his first conference tournament ever [Higgins] stepped us for us and played two very solid rounds. He has continued his rapid improvement and does such a great job of playing to his strengths. Riverton will be a new course for [Higgins] but he will use the practice round to get a plan for the weekend,” said Hildebrand.
Junior Kason Cannon shot 104 on Friday and 102 on Saturday.
“[Cannon] had his best career two day total as well this week. He has come a long, long way in the last year and a half and he will round out our varsity team for the state tournament. This will be a good experience for him as he moves into a different role for us next year as a senior,” the coach said.
Sophomore Yogi Sullivan shot 111 on Friday and 115 on Saturday.
“[Sullivan] just hasn’t been able to put it all together in a tournament this fall yet but he has worked hard and definitely shown signs of what he is capable of with his game. He was able to get a lot of tournament experience this fall and I know he will show up ready to go next spring,” said Hildebrand.
Freshman Brandon Wentz shot 126 on Friday and 121 on Saturday.
“[Wentz] played in just his second tournament ever and once again he improved each day. In just four rounds he has taken 23 strokes off his first round. I really think [Wentz] is going to be a very valuable player for us and will be very important to our team next fall,” Hildebrand said.
For individual titles, Jaren Calkins of Lander won the tournament shooting a 1 under par 139 with 68-71. Lander placed four in the top ten and Star Valley placed all five of their varsity players.
Hildebrand said that “the state tournament looks to have Lander (defending champions) and Worland coming in as the favorites. Worland has solid depth and is led by Karsten Simmons who also shot under par at the 3A east tournament. Star Valley, Riverton, Douglas and us look to be in the next group behind those two according to the regional results. We are looking for a top five finish for sure and if some things broke our way we could possibly crack the top three.”
Lander – the defending state champions shot a blistering 280 on Friday and a 259 on Saturday to win the 3A West Conference Tournament. Star Valley placed second shooting 273 on Friday and 280 on Saturday and Jackson was third shooting 291 on Friday and 287 on Saturday.
The Lady Panthers had their best weekend of the year by quite a margin shooting 324 on Friday 330 on Saturday.
The coach stressed that the team “opened the year shooting nearly 400 here at home. This was a great chance for these three juniors to get some experience at a conference tournament that they can fall back on again next week and next year.”
Mycah Wainscott shot 96 on Friday and 98 on Saturday for 10th place – which earned her All-Conference honors.
“[Wainscott] earned her second consecutive all-conference award in Afton,” said Hildebrand. “She actually battled some swing troubles but hung in there both days to post sub 100 rounds and hang on for a top ten. She’ll work hard this week and take her very best to Riverton. With a strong week, she could be battling for an all-state position.”
Cat Wilson shot 111 on Friday and 105 on Saturday.
“[Wilson] continues to show growth each week and this was no exception. This is her best two day total and in a testament to her grit she had a really bad hole early in her round Friday and she bounced back by posting a birdie and a couple pars to hold her round together,” said Hildebrand adding that “this will be her first state tournament and I look for her to continue learning the game and battling through every round.”
Bailey Kennedy shot 117 on Friday and 127 on Saturday.
“[Kennedy] had a break out week overall and played her career-best round Friday by over 15 strokes. She is figuring things out more and more each week and this experience along with a strong spring will be huge for her next fall. I’m excited to see how she comes out and plays at state this week with the way she has been improving,” Hildebrand said.
Of the state tournament, Hildebrand said that “Torrington lead by defending individual champion Kaley Essert and Lander head to Riverton as the favorites and it should be a very good state tournament.”
For the PHS golfers, Hildebrand said. “we have a chance for a handful of players to be in the mix for all-state honors if they are able to put together a solid week. We have improved a great deal on both sides this season and I’d like to see us come out this week and just play up to our potential and let things shake out from there.”
The PHS golf teams will have a practice round on Thursday, September 13th followed by the tournament Friday, September 14th and Saturday, September 15th.