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PHS golfers off and putting

While other athletes are still knocking off the rust in practices, Powell High School’s boys and girls golfers will be asked to hit the ground walking at a tournament that begins today (Thursday) in Riverton.

The two-day varsity-only affair at the Riverton Country Club comes just a few days after the start of practices.

One thing working in PHS’ favor is that both squads are bringing significant experience.

On the boys side, that includes three members of the boys team that won the Class 3A State Tournament in Rawlins last year: All State medalists Bowen Prestwich, a senior who took top individual honors and sophomore Pax Mitchell, who placed third, plus junior Jared Wantulok.

“I like the experiene we have returning and it’s a really good group of kids,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand.

The girls return plenty of experience, too, bringing back four letter winners from the 2011 campaign. Those gals are seniors Alyssa Hildebrand and Tess Mitchell — who each earned All-Conference honors last year — and sophomores Mikala Fulton and Carli Brown.

“With the four that we have returning and the work that they put in this summer, I really think that we have a girls team that’s going to be able to be right in the mix with a lot of teams,” said Coach Hildebrand.

Ten boys and four girls are out for PHS golf so far, he said Tuesday.

Making up the varsity squad for the boys at the Riverton invite will be Prestwich, Mitchell, senior Cameron Nielson, Wantulok and junior Dillon Nix.

Senior Zach Kienlen is also back out for the team this year and “I would expect him to be in the mix for one of those (varsity) spots for conference and state,” said Coach Hildebrand.

The squad lost a leader and consistently excellent golfer in the form of Brian Morse, who graduated this spring. In addition to losing the All State performer, the boys also are without Jackson Roling, who was a big contributor to the team as a freshman last year but has since moved from Powell.

“We’re a little bit different team,” said Coach Hildebrand. However, the returning experience “makes us kind of a veteran team, which always helps when it comes to the end,” Hildebrand said. He said it may take a little while to get everyone sorted out and playing the way they were at the end of last year.

As for the girls, Coach Hildebrand calls it “a really good strong group” that has a lot of promise.

“This is easily the strongest girls team that we’ve started a season with since the 2001 team that actually won state,” he said.

The golfers will get a worthy first test in Riverton, featuring a challenging golf course and teams PHS won’t see much of until state and conference, Coach Hildebrand said.

Riverton’s tourney, he said, should give a pretty good idea of where everyone stands.

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