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PHS golfers take third

A grasshopper infestation and too-slick Lander greens made for one of the strangest tournaments ever for Powell High School golf, said Head Coach Troy Hildebrand.

The Panther boys persevered through the challenging conditions to take third at the season-opening Lander invitational, and had three players place in the top 10 individually — Bowen Prestwich, Pax Mitchell and Jackson Roling.

Both of PHS’ golfing girls — Alyssa Hildebrand and Tess Mitchell — took top-10 honors as well at the Thursday-Friday tourney.

“Every player that traveled this week did something Thursday or Friday that was both a surprise to me and very promising for our season,” said an impressed Coach Hildebrand.

While the golfers all played 36 holes, only 27 of them counted, as tournament officials decided to throw out Friday’s back nine scores. Hildebrand said the number of grasshoppers made the back side “nearly unplayable,” and players could hardly keep their golf balls on two of the greens.

The putting surfaces were improved for Friday play.

Powell finished with a 493 total score for third, seven shots back of Cody and five back of Green River.

Only 16 shots separated the first through fifth place teams.

Prestwich shot a 39 on the front nine on Thursday, then fired an 82 on Friday to tie for fifth individually with teammate Pax Mitchell.

Hildebrand said Prestwich’s strong play came as no surprise, and credited the junior’s hard work.

Mitchell, a freshman, shot 42 on Thursday and followed it up with a Friday 79 for what Hildebrand called a “great start to his high school career.”

“A 79 on the Lander course the first time you see it was quite a round,” the coach said.

Just two shots back, in a tie for ninth, was another PHS freshman, Jackson Roling.

Roling shot 42 the first day, then followed it up with an 81.

“Not only did he play very well, but he had a very calm demeanor about him and stayed positive when the conditions were tough,” Hildebrand said.

Senior Brian Morse shot 45 on the front nine, and was one of the few players to be hurt by the decision to toss out Thursday’s back nine scores, Hildebrand said. Morse shot a “solid” 83 on Friday and spotted some areas for improvement, the coach said.

Junior Cameron Nielson shot a 48 on Thursday and a 97 on Friday; Hildebrand said it was a good start for Nielson to open with two rounds under 100.

Junior Alyssa Hildebrand shot a 54 on Thursday’s front side, but leapt to sixth place with a 103 on Friday — the fourth-best score that day.

Tess Mitchell, a fellow junior who was making her Lady Panther debut, fired a 49 on Thursday and a 110 on Friday to tie for eighth. Coach Hildebrand called it a “super start ... on a tough course for girls,” and praised Mitchell’s hard work over the summer.

With only two players, the PHS girls did not qualify for a team score, but hope to this weekend with a couple freshman — Carli Brown and Mikala Hill-Fulton — slated to join the mix at this week’s Powell-Cody invitational.

On the boys’ junior varsity squad in Lander, sophomore Jared Wantulok rebounded from a front nine 55 on Thursday with an 89 on Friday, which Coach Hildebrand called a “great sign.”

Sophomore Dillon Nix shot a career-best 92 on Thursday, but it didn’t count when the back nine scores were thrown out. Nix shot a 109 on Friday. Junior Zack Kienlen also had a career-best round on Thursday, which included a 45 on the front nine. He shot a 110 on Friday.

This week, the Powell High School golfers will tee it up in a 2 p.m. shotgun start at the Powell Golf Course on Friday, then head to Cody’s Olive Glenn Country Club for a 9 a.m. Saturday start.

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