Golfers look to capitalize on home turf

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For the first time since 2005 — and the only time until 2027 — Powell is hosting this year’s Class 3A State Golf Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

“It is obviously a unique experience for our team to have our culminating event on our home course and we will do our best this week to take advantage of that,” said Powell High School golf coach Troy Hildebrand. “As a team we have made some great strides this year, and I think that the familiarity of playing on our own course should help our guys feel more comfortable this weekend.”

Powell’s squad features one junior (Treven Keeler), three sophomores (Reece Hackenberg, Rob Sessions and Bennett Walker) and one freshman (Crandell Sanders).

They’ll be among more than 100 players competing across 13 boys teams and 11 girls teams hailing from Buffalo, Cody, Douglas, Lander, Lyman, Pinedale, Rawlins, Riverton, Star Valley, Thermopolis, Torrington, Wheatland and Worland.

Hildebrand believes the race for the team title on the boys side could be one of the tightest contests in recent memory. Star Valley and Wheatland won the 3A west and east conference titles, respectively, but Lander, Thermopolis and Torrington finished right at their heels. Hildebrand also sees Buffalo in the mix.

“Each of these teams has won events this fall at different times and it will truly come down to the team that can limit mistakes and battle through the tough times this week,” the coach said.

Hildebrand expects perhaps a dozen boys — led by west conference champion Dawson Ritt of Cody (who shot 82-77 in Lander) and east champion Hudson Roling of Thermopolis (79-76 in Buffalo) — contending for individual champion honors.

On the girls side of the competition, some 44 golfers are expected to play, which is the most in many years, Hildebrand said.

“So both the individual and team races should be exciting,” he said.

The coach sees Lander, led by Macy Jacobson, as very strong. Jacobson shot 73-83 at the western conference tournament to run away from the field. Torrington’s Caleigh Essert, meanwhile, similarly put more than two dozen shots between her and her competitors in the east with rounds of 83 and 81.

Golfers’ tee times start at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll try to make the most of this opportunity and put on an event that we can be proud of and that showcases our community and golf course,” Hildebrand said

Weather could be a factor, as rain and mid-50s temperatures are forecast for both days — plus breezy conditions on Friday.

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