It’s no secret that Whitefish has the best Class A golf program in the state. So the boys’ convincing state championship victory in early October served not only as a reminder of how good the Bulldogs are, but also of how good they’re going to be next year.
Of Whitefish’s five golfers who competed in the state tourney in Polson on Oct. 10-11, only Daniel Markus is a senior. The rest will return for next season, including this year’s state runner-up Reed Platke, a freshman phenom who led the championship going into the second round before winding up one stroke behind the winner, Preston Matchett of Billings Central.
Head coach Terry Nelson said Platke is as good of a freshman as he’s coached in his 25 years at Whitefish. At the state tourney, Platke shot a 76 in each round, posting a 38 on both front nines and both back nines: “That’s as consistent as you get,” Nelson said.
“He’s extremely poised for a freshman,” Nelson said. “He doesn’t get rattled. He understands the game really well.”
Behind Platke, Whitefish’s other top finishers were Markus and Joel Mallams, who tied for fourth place. Ryan Zalucky was eighth and Zach Maassen finished 11th. As a team, Whitefish shot a 623, 30 strokes better than second-place Billings Central and 61 strokes better than third-place Livingston. It was the Bulldogs’ fourth state championship in five years. Last season, Hamilton broke their three-year streak.
On the girls’ side, Breanna Cameron paced the Lady Bulldogs to a second-place finish behind Billings Central. Cameron shot an 87 and 82 to tie for second. Kiley McConnell and Quinn Micklewright finished eighth and 11th, respectively. Last fall, the girls won the state championship.
Under Nelson, the boys have won a total of seven state championships and the girls have collected 14.
Just down U.S. Highway 93 in Kalispell, another Flathead golf dynasty is forming. The Glacier High School boys followed up last year’s state championship with a close second-place showing at the Class AA tournament in Helena on Oct. 14-15. The Wolfpack shot a 598, three strokes behind Billings West. The year before, Glacier tied West for the overall championship.
The tournament was originally scheduled for Oct. 9-10 but was delayed because of weather.
Once again, leading the way was senior Larry Iverson III, who coasted to his second consecutive state title with a five-shot victory over Ben Ternes of Helena Capital. Iverson shot a 66 and 70 for a two-round total of 136. Last year Iverson’s 140 was good enough for a dominating eight-stroke victory. Iverson has accepted a golf scholarship to the University of Washington next year.
Behind Iverson were Justin Newton and Graham Schmaltz, each shooting a 153. Tre Griffith shot a 156 and Aaron Young a 159. On the girls side, Karli Aurich led the Wolfpack with a 162 en route to sixth place. The Lady Wolfpack were fifth overall.
Here is a rundown of how the area’s golfers fared at the state tournaments:
Glacier boys (598) – Larry Iverson 66-70-136, Justin Newton 77-76-153, Graham Schmaltz 81-72-153, Tre Griffith 79-77-156, Aaron Young 81-78-159
Glacier girls (751) – Karli Aurich 81-81-162, Kaylee Archer 95-104-199, Elsie Sutterfield 96-86-192, Justine Klein 100-101-201, Andrea Spicher 103-101-204
Flathead boys (681) – Ian Hineman 82-80-162, Ian Gillespie 85-82-167, Chris Holquin 85-87-172, Michael Lavin 91-89-180, Karl Ingram 105-98-203
Flathead girls (792) – Sarah Cunningham 94-86-190, Julia Bechtold 99-104-203, Calli Toth 101-95-196, Beth McNutt 103-100-203, Andrea Battello 116-119-235
Whitefish boys (623) – Reed Platke 76-76-152, Daniel Markus 78-79-157, Joel Mallams 78-79-157, Ryan Zalucky 85-77-162, Zach Maassen 80-85-165
Whitefish girls (722) – Breanna Cameron 87-82-169, Kiley McConnell 91-85-176, Quinn Micklewright 95-86-181, Danielle McCully 97-100-197, Ellen Scheffer 103-99-202
Bigfork boys (732) – Kyle Parker 81-86-167, Steven Schuster 91-84-175, Cole Francico 96-94-190, Ryan Gembala 103-103-206, Ben Sandry 97-114-211
Bigfork girls (840) – Sara Keenan 91-95-186, Carson Harris 102-100-202, Amy Gembala 105-109-214, Caitlynn O’Dell 120-118-238, Kelko Sagami 141-151-292
Columbia Falls boys (no team score) – Tanner Lineberry 87-90-177
Columbia Falls girls – no qualifiers
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