ANACONDA — Fairmont is known for its typically tough conditions, which means consistent team play was vital Thursday.
Both the boys and girls competitors dealt with early-round rain and high winds on the first day of the Western AA Divisional tournament, with the clear first-day separator clearly coming as how well each team’s No. 3 through No. 5 golfers played, possibly best evidenced by Glacier’s 314 and two shot lead over Missoula Sentinel on the boys’ side of the tourney.
Wolfpack No. 1 Tyler Avery’s 76 was complemented by Keaton Cassidy and Coby Kunda’s 77, being the only team to have three golfers break 80 in the first round. Sentinel’s Kade McDonough and Jaden Dennis, finishing with a 74 and 78 respectively, pushed their team to being the only other squad with two or more under-80 scores.
The Spartans’ head coach Craig Matosich said he was pleased with how the team responded to Fairmont’s challenge and that he’s confident in his team heading into Day 2.
“The boys fought through it,” Matosich said. “The down-grain, down-wind putts are tough so I feel good about the day… We left a couple shots out there, but my feeling is that just about everybody did.”
Besides the tight race at the top between Sentinel and Glacier, Helena Capital put itself in the driver seat for a team spot at State, as Caswell Bloomquist’s 76 was the third-lowest individual score of the day, tied with Avery and behind McDonough and Flathead’s Ezra Epperly.
Competing for the final spot for next week’s tournament in Missoula is Helena High, Flathead, Missoula Hellgate and Missoula Big Sky, with Flathead currently sitting at a 341 and ahead of Hellgate by 10 shots as Ezra Epperly fired an impressive 73 to keep his team in a state spot.
Butte Girls Take Lead
With five teams competing for four spots, the push to ensure a spot at the Class AA state tournament was on.
Like with the boys’ side of the tournament, the biggest challenge for every player was battling the conditions and not letting tough shots get away from them. It proved to be a challenge for just about every squad, as a total of eight golfers broke 100.
Two of which came for Butte, who jumped out to a 24-shot lead heading into the divisional’s second day, as the duo of Ella Prigge and Kodie Hoagland each finished with an 84.
Bulldogs head coach Eric Mankins complimented his top two for a solid round on a tough day, but also emphasized the importance of Butte being hungry for more success despite an early lead.
“Overall, they were disappointed with their scores,” Mankins said. “But they’re always trying to do better for their team, with Kodie, Kennedy [Lean,] Mackenzie [Finnegan,] and Megan [Savage,] they struck the ball fairly well today and they’re doing well. They’re coming together and competing as a team, and they’ll win and lose as a team.”
Solid rounds of 95 and 98 from Helena Capital’s No. 3 and No. 4, Megan Swanson and Paige O’Mara helped the Bruins to a 394 and a secure second-place spot heading into Friday, while Glacier and Flathead are behind Capital with scores of 404 and 411.
Flathead standout Marcella Mercer shot the third-lowest round of the opening day, finishing with an 86.
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