With the 4A State Tournament beginning this Thursday, the Evanston High School boys’ and girls’ golf teams are heading to Casper with some momentum, with both teams finishing in the top spot at the Evanston Invitational Friday at Purple Sage Golf Course.
“We were pleased that both our boys and girls won at the Evanston Invitational,” said EHS head golf coach Jerry Carroll. “We’re excited heading into state this week — we’re hoping for the best for a young Red Devils boys’ team, and we’re hoping our girls can come in and play their very best at state.”
With the field narrowed significantly due to COVID concerns, the Red Devils were first in the three-team field, carding a 341 on the day. Rock Springs was second with a 373, followed by Kemmerer with a 384.
The Lady Devils carded a 279 to take the top spot, followed by Rock Springs with a 288. Kemmerer had only one girl compete, so they were unable to post a team score.
The Lady Devils were led once again by Aryana Little, who claimed medalist honors with an 86. Hadley Blackwell was third with a 96, followed by Isabella Johnson with a 98.
“Our girls had some tough competition with Rock Springs,” Carroll said. “Rock Springs has a very good girls’ team. But we had some kids come through — three of our girls were in the top five, with Aryana Little finishing first. Isabella Johnson and Hadley Blackwell were also in the top five, so we were just really pleased with the girls on that one.”
Rachel Buzarde carded a 101, while Elizabeth Rees carded a 130 to round out the Lady Devils’ varsity contingent. Senior Zoe Dean was unable to compete due to illness.
Carroll said he’s hoping to have a healthy group to take to Casper this week.
“We’re hoping to have a good, healthy, full girls’ team, and I’m hoping they’re looking to make some noise at state,” Carroll said. “I think if we have all our girls there, we can be in the top three — that’s going to be a goal of ours.”
Senior Red Devil Braxton Lind continued his winning ways Friday, taking medalist honors with a 76.
“Braxton has been playing well — 73, 74 and 76 on good courses the last three tournaments,” Carroll said. “I know that he’s a competitor. He’s going to go in with his sights set on winning the championship.”
Teammate Ryan Barker was second with an 85, while the freshman tandem of Sam Dolezal and Porter Hall rounded out the top five, each carding a 90. Hall began the day with a 52 on the front nine, but bounced back with a 38 on the back nine to finish in the top five.
“With the boys, we had four of the top five placers — Braxton Lind was first, followed by Kyle Barker,” Carroll said. “And our two freshmen were in the fourth and fifth spot, so we were very pleased with how our invitational went.”
Carroll said he was very impressed by the poise exhibited from his two freshmen; he expects both to be major contributors to the program moving forward.
“It bodes well for the future — these are kids [Sam Dolezal and Porter Hall] who worked hard all summer, and golfed a lot,” Carroll said. “I think they’re going to continue to be golfers and work hard. I think they’ll be a great addition to our team.”
Though he was pleased with his teams’ performances, Carroll was disappointed that more schools didn’t participate. With state just a few days away, he was hoping to have a better idea of what to expect from the teams on the other side of the state.
“We were supposed to be hosting a state qualifier meet, so we expected to see the Casper schools and the Laramie schools, Rock Springs, Jackson — all of them were supposed to be here, with four teams qualifying for state,” Carroll explained. “But because of the COVID situation, they couldn’t come down. Because of that, and the lack of travel, we haven’t seen the teams from the other side of the state quite as much as I would have liked to.”
As for what the team will work on this week leading up to Thursday, Carroll said you can’t go wrong working on the fundamentals.
“With golf, you simply go play against the golf course — you’re not really playing against the other kids,” he explained. “You’re not going to have that aspect where you can affect or change how your opponent plays. With our kids, we’re working on simply making sure we’re ready with our swings, that our swing mechanics are good. Mentally, hopefully we’re strong and excited about playing.”
Unfortunately for Evanston, the teams won’t have a chance to play a practice round at Three Crowns Golf Course before the tournament begins, yet another COVID-related restriction.
“They won’t get a feel for that course, which is unfortunate,” Carroll said. “It’s a little bit of a disadvantage, because we don’t regularly compete in Casper, whereas the Casper schools have seen that course, as have the other schools around there. But I know some of our kids have gotten up there on their own and played with their parents, because they knew that’s where state was going to be held. So that’s a good thing.”