Playing their most consistent golf of the season, the Lovell High School golf team battled a tough field at the Worland Invitational Thursday and Friday and topped their only 2A opponent, Thermopolis, with three golfers shooting under 100 in each round.
Lovell had lost to Thermop at the Lander Invitational Aug. 18-19, but this time the Bulldogs topped the Bobcats with a score of 736 to Thermop’s 762. Sheridan topped the large-school field with a two-day score of 612, followed by Cody at 649 and Gillette at 655.
“We smoked ‘em both days,” a pleased coach Ben Fowler said in an interview Monday. “That was our goal this week. Thermop beat us in Lander, so the team goal was to see what we could do with Thermop this week.”
Lovell also topped host Worland, Fowler said.
“We were kind of in the middle of the pack,” Fowler said. “We were ninth overall, which is pretty good for a 2A school.
“I was awfully proud of our kids for stepping up as well as they did. We changed things up to try to get some mental stability with Cody (King).”
King, a senior, had been golfing in the number-one spot for the Bulldogs, but he had been fighting himself, Fowler said, fussing over bad rounds while competing against teams’ other top golfers.
This week, Fowler designated sophomore Chase Tippetts as the number-one golfer, and he responded with a score of 46-44=90 on the first day and 46-42=88 on day two for a two-day score of 178.
“That’s very good,” Fowler said. “He’s doing exactly what he needs to do. If he can gain a stroke or two with his putting and chipping he’ll be that much better off.”
King seemed to relax with less pressure and, golfing in the number two position, shot 42-40=82 on the first day, which, ironically, boosted him back to the top spot for day two. With the pressure on, King shot 53 over the first 18, then settled down to shoot a 41 the second time around and finished with a 94, good for a two-day total of 176.
“It worked fabulous,” Fowler said of the move to the second spot. “His mind set was better chasing kids instead of the course.
“It’s obviously paying off. He has a great game. The mental part is what we’re working on. If we can maintain that we’re in good shape.”
Stepping up and number three was sophomore Brandon Wolvington, who shot a consistent 40-44=84 Thursday and 46-45-91 Friday for a final score of 175, tops on the Lovell team for the tournament.
“That’s fabulous, all three of ‘em,” Fowler said. “I love it. Brandon stepped up in the third position. Jesse brought it in, too.”
Senior Jesse Bassett was strong in the fourth position, Fowler said, shooting 50-55=105 and 51-51=102 for a score of 207, solidifying his spot in the top four, the coach said.
“This lets the kids know we can compete with anybody,” Fowler noted. “We’re right where we need to be. This is what we’re looking for in a fourth man. Jesse has proven that two weeks in a row.”
Golfing number five last week was freshman C.J. Murphey, who shot well “for a freshman thrown to the wolves” for the first time, Fowler said. Murphey shot 55-56=111 and 58-49=107 for a 218.
Fowler now has four solid golfers battling for the fifth spot on the varsity team, he said: Murphey, Tony Rodriguez, Kaleb Hitz and Isaac Schroeder.
Schroeder and Hitz golfed in the junior varsity division in Worland. Schroeder shot 57-65=122/55-64=119 – 241. Hitz shot 50-56=106/54-47=101 – 207.
“Good for him,” Fowler said of Hitz’s effort. “That’s probably some of the best shooting he’s done.”
Seniors Alyssa Geiser and Jordan Frost both had strong performances in Worland, Fowler said. Geiser shot 54-56=110 the first day and 46-50=96 on day two for a final score of 206.
“She was four strokes better on Friday and eight strokes from a top 10 finish,” Fowler said. “That says a lot about her athletic ability. This was only her third time out competing.”
Frost shot 50-56=106 Thursday, then improved to 52-52=104 Friday for a score of 210.
“Jordan will be right there on the 2A side at State,” Fowler said. “She’s really honing in on her game.”
The Bulldogs are now focusing on the final two tournaments of the fall season. They are off this weekend but will travel to Thermopolis Sept. 16-17 for the Bobcat Invitational. Action begins Friday at noon and Saturday at 9 a.m.
“Almost everybody from 2A will be there,” Fowler said. “It will be a 2A battle.”
The Class 2A State Tournament will be Sept. 22-24 in Kemmerer.
By David Peck