The Lovell Bulldogs played well, but not quite as well as they wanted to, as they placed a solid third place at the Class 2A State Golf Tournament Friday and Saturday in Kemmerer.
Five of the team’s seven golfers, including both girls, placed in the top 10 to earn Class 2A All-State recognition, but as a team, the Lovell boys finished 24 shots behind state champion Lusk, with Kemmerer second, 10 strokes back.
“We had a good performance, but Lusk came out of nowhere to take it,” coach Ben Fowler said. “But with three boys and two girls in the top 10, it was a positive weekend for us.
“We got third place, and there are 10 other teams who would like to have had that placing.”
Fowler said the weather was perfect in Kemmerer and the course was in great shape.
“You couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said. “Coach Zem (Hopkins) put on a great tournament.”
The Lusk team came out blazing and easily topped the field after the first day with a score of 369 Friday, 19 shots ahead of three teams in second place at 388 – Kemmerer, Lovell and Sundance.
“We weren’t worried about Lusk, we were more concerned about Thermop,” Fowler said. “But they (407) weren’t even in the picture.”
On day two, Lusk shot 374, but this time it was the host team, Kemmerer, that heated up for a 365 to nab second place as Lusk held onto first place. Lovell shot better also, at 379, but couldn’t make up any ground because of how well the top two teams played.
Final totals were Lusk at 743, Kemmerer 753, Lovell 767, Sundance 773, Moorcroft 781, Wright 796, Thermopolis 804, Tongue River 861, Big Horn 873 and Upton 1,011.
Individually, Kemmerer coach’s son Erron Hopkins won the tournament by shooting a blazing 79-76=155, followed by Lusk freshman Denton Shaw at 82-78=160.
Lovell senior Cody King placed sixth with rounds of 90 and 91 for a two-day total of 181. Fowler said King was consistent but “not where he wanted to be.
“But sixth was a good finish for him as a senior,” the coach said.
Sophomores Chase Tippetts and Brandon Wolvington tied for ninth along with Trey Taylor of Sundance and Taylor Worman of Wright, all at 191.
Tippetts shot 95-96=191, Wolvington 97-94=191.
“Chase has been shooting in the high 80s, and we threw him into the number one position, so maybe he felt the pressure,” Fowler said. “It was good for him to maintain in the 90s and place ninth.
“Brandon has been up and down all year. He had a slow start with a 97, which is higher than he wanted to be, but he was able to shave three strokes on the second day to help his team maintain third place.”
Senior Jesse Bassett shot 106-98=204 to tie for 23rd place.
“Jesse had a tough first day, but his goal was to shoot under 100 on the second day,” Fowler said. “He played as hard as anybody on the team, especially the second day, to help his team stay in the trophy hunt. Good for him as a senior.”
Lovell’s fifth golfer was freshman CJ Murphey, who shot 115-111=226.
“That was great experience for him,” Fowler said. “The experience he gathered will go a long way. He has a good swing and is a good kid.”
Geiser, Frost strong
The Lovell girls team didn’t have enough golfers to compete for the team title, but seniors Alyssa Geiser and Jordan Frost raised eyebrows by finishing in the top five.
Geiser shot 110-99=209 to place fourth, and Frost shot 110-100=210 for fifth place.
“For her first year out as a senior, that’s a great accomplishment,” Fowler said. “She’s played golf for one year and playing as hard as she did she earns the fourth-place position. That’s quite an accomplishment for any player, and it’s a great experience for her.”
Frost met a goal she had set at the beginning of the year, Fowler said.
“That’s the best finish of her career,” he said. “She should be proud of herself as a senior. That was a goal of hers, to finish in the top five.”
As he completes his 10th season at the helm of the golf team, Fowler said he would like to thank the Foster Gulch Golf Course for allowing the team to play, assistant coach Dan Wolvington for his work and school officials for their support: Denise Harrison for “setting everything up” and Athletic Director Joe Koritnik, who he said “has been a blessing as an AD.”
“We’re looking forward to another good spring,” Fowler said.
By David Peck