The Powell High School Panthers and Lady Panthers each placed third at the Class 3A West Conference Tournament in Star Valley last weekend, and five PHS players claimed All Conference Honors. That’s the most individual honors the squads have ever had. On the boys side, it included a tie for second between Brian Morse and Bowen Prestwich and a tie for eighth for Pax Mitchell. For the girls, Alyssa Hildebrand made a third-place showing and Tess Mitchell tied for seventh.
“We had a great weekend in Afton,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand.
Hildebrand said the competition on the boys side was some of the toughest he’s ever seen.
“There have been very few years where 306-318 (PHS’ team score) wouldn’t have been good enough to win it but this year it didn’t quite get it done,” said Hildebrand. A likely part of the reason for the lower scores is that the Star Valley View Golf Course is a par 70, rather than the typical par 72. While not a long course, it had a lot of well-placed bunkers and extremely thick rough, Hildebrand said.
The Powell boys, with a two-day total of 624, trailed conference winner Jackson (305-310 = 615) and Cody (310-312 = 622). Lander was fourth at 643, followed by Star Valley (659), Lyman (742) and Pinedale (842).
Morse, a senior, and Prestwich, a junior, were one shot behind individual winner Scooter Gill of Jackson (73-76 = 149).
Morse shot two 75s for his second All Conference performance.
“He has really set the tone for us all year and I am looking forward to his performance at the state tournament,” said Hildebrand.
Prestwich shot 73-77.
“Bowen put up his best rounds of the year at just the right time,” Hildebrand said, praising the junior’s hard work.
Mitchell fired a 74 on Friday then hung on through a tough Saturday to shoot 83 and claim All Conference honors — a “very nice accomplishment” as a freshman, the coach said.
He also said sophomore Jared Wantulok “gave us a real boost this weekend when we really needed him,” in shooting 84-83. The 83 was his best round ever.
Freshman Jackson Roling shot 86-83. Though it wasn’t Roling’s best week, Hildebrand praised his consistency and said Roling will put his best foot forward at state.
The Lady Panthers had their two best days of the season in shooting 295 and then 293 for a 588 team total. That trailed Cody (542) and Jackson (555). Star Valley (599) took fourth, followed by Lander (603).
Five of the Lady Panthers’ six rounds in Star Valley were career lows.
Alyssa Hildebrand led the way by breaking 90 for the first time on Friday — shooting 89 — then besting that with a Saturday 84 — the low round of the day. She finished six shots behind first-place finisher Katy Estes of Jackson and three strokes out of second for third place, and her third All Conference performance.
“It was great to see her go from just being able to sneak into the top 10 as a freshman and sophomore to truly competing for the conference championship this year,” Coach Hildebrand said.
Tess Mitchell also had a career low 93 on Friday, then “battled through a very rough start Saturday” to post a 101 and tie for seventh, the coach said.
“Tess has worked very hard on her game all summer and has done everything possible this fall to be in a position to be successful at state,” Coach Hildebrand said.
Carli Brown came through with her two best rounds to date, shooting 113-108 and helping PHS take third.
“Carli has improved a tremendous amount this season and I was very happy to see her best golf come at such a critical time for us,” Hildebrand said.
The boys junior varsity players closed out their year in Afton. Junior Zach Kienlen shot 92-90 for the fifth-best JV score at the tourney, finishing a year in which he went from not making traveling trips to averaging under 100. Cameron Nielson shot 92-98 and, on the year, the junior averaged about six shots lower than he did last year, the coach said.
Dillon Nix, a sophomore, posted rounds of 96 and 115. Despite a rough second day, Hildebrand said Nix’s improvement has been a very bright spot — 17 spots better than last year.
The coach said he’s very optimistic about the boys’ chances at the state tournament in Rawlins this week, while he hopes the girls will also be in the battle for a top-three trophy.
The PHS golfers will begin teeing off at Rawlins’ Rochelle Ranch Golf Course at 9 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday.